A reminder that since mid-March I’ve been collecting studies funding by food companies. These greatly tend to produce results favorable to the sponsor’s interests. Today’s group makes 70. I have an ongoing call out for sponsored studies that don’t. So far I’ve found 5 . If you run across either kind, please send.
Breakfasts Higher in Protein Increase Postprandial Energy Expenditure, Increase Fat Oxidation, and Reduce Hunger in Overweight Children from 8 to 12 Years of Age. Jamie I Baum, Michelle Gray, and Ashley Binns. J Nutr 2015;145:2229–35.
Dietary Whey and Casein Differentially Affect Energy Balance, Gut Hormones, Glucose Metabolism, and Taste Preference in Diet-Induced Obese Rats. Adel Pezeshki, Andrew Fahim, and Prasanth K Chelikani. J. Nutr. 2015; 145:2236-2244 doi:10.3945/jn.115.213843
Consumption of Yogurt, Low-Fat Milk, and Other Low-Fat Dairy Products Is Associated with Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome Incidence in an Elderly Mediterranean Population. Nancy Babio, Nerea Becerra-Tomás, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Dolores Corella, Ramon Estruch, Emilio Ros, Carmen Sayón-Orea, Montserrat Fitó, Lluís Serra-Majem, Fernando Arós, Rosa M Lamuela-Raventós, José Lapetra, Enrique Gómez-Gracia, Miguel Fiol, Andrés Díaz-López, José V Sorlí, J Alfredo Martínez, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, on behalf of the PREDIMED Investigators. J. Nutr. 2015; 145:2308-2316 doi:10.3945/jn.115.214593
Type and amount of dietary protein in the treatment of metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Alison M Hill, Kristina A Harris Jackson, Michael A Roussell, Sheila G West, and Penny M Kris-Etherton. Am J Clin Nutr 2015; 102:757-770 doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.104026
Oral Vitamin D Supplements Increase Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in Postmenopausal Women and Reduce Bone Calcium Flux Measured by 41Ca Skeletal Labeling. Andreas Schild, Isabelle Herter-Aeberli, Karin Fattinger, Sarah Anderegg, Tim Schulze-König, Christof Vockenhuber, Hans-Arno Synal, Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, Peter Weber, Arnold von Eckardstein, and Michael B Zimmermann. J. Nutr. 2015; 145:2333-2340 doi:10.3945/jn.115.215004
Two events yesterday:#1. USDA and HHS announce that sustainability will not be part of the Dietary Guidelines.
This year, we will release the 2015 edition, and though the guidelines have yet to be finalized, we know they will be similar in many key respects to those of past years. Fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lean meats and other proteins, and limited amounts of saturated fats, added sugars and sodium remain the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle.
…In terms of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), we will remain within the scope of our mandate in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (NNMRRA), which is to provide “nutritional and dietary information and guidelines”… “based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge.” The final 2015 Guidelines are still being drafted, but because this is a matter of scope, we do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.
OK, but see Michele Simon’s analysis of the legal issues related to sustainability in the guidelines, and My Plate My Planet’s analysis of the comments filed on the sustainability question.
As my analysis shows, the USDA and HHS would be well within its legal authority to include sustainability. In summary:
And also see Kathleen Merrigan et al’s argument in favor of sustainable dietary guidelines in Science Magazine.
So this is about politics, not science.#2. A coalition of critics of the Dietary Guidelines is attempting to block their release.
Yesterday’s Hagstrom Report and, later, Politico (both behind paywalls) reported that this group is calling on USDA and HHS to turn over the guidelines to a committee of the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board for reexamination before releasing them to the public.
The issues? The meat and beverage recommendations.
The group is funded by philanthropists Laura and John D. Arnold, who fund Nina Teicholz’s work.
Teicholz is on the board of the group as is Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the Ohio State University College of Education, and John Billings, who directs the Wagner School’s Health Policy and Management Program at NYU (why they agreed to do this is beyond me).
Hagstrom notes that coordinating support is coming from Beth Johnson, a former undersecretary for food safety at USDA who has her own consulting firm with clients apparently including the National Restaurant Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Other members of the advisory board include several scientists who do research funded by food companies.
The Coalition’s website is here.
This morning’s Politico Pro Agriculture has a long piece on the funding behind the coalition.
In the lead up to congressional hearings on the proposed 2015 dietary guidelines, the Arnolds are spending an initial $200,000 to communicate that critique and to advocate for changes that they say would improve the process. They have funded the new political action group, called The Nutrition Coalition, whose well-placed lobbyists have helped Teicholz score face-to-face meetings with top officials in Congress and the White House to push for an independent review of the guideline process. The team helped persuade lawmakers to insert language in the fiscal 2016 House agriculture spending bill to direct the National Academy of Medicine to conduct such a review.
Really? Eating fruits and vegetables and not overeating calories requires this level of lobbying?
This too is about politics.
The mind boggles.
The Hagstrom Report is keeping track of the testimony at today’s congressional hearing on the guidelines.
Consumption of Honey, Sucrose, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup Produces Similar Metabolic Effects in Glucose-Tolerant and -Intolerant Individuals. Susan K Raatz, LuAnn K Johnson, and Matthew J Picklo. J. Nutr. 2015; 145:2265-2272 doi:10.3945/jn.115.218016
Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and incident hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohorts. Viranda H Jayalath, Russell J de Souza, Vanessa Ha, Arash Mirrahimi, Sonia Blanco-Mejia, Marco Di Buono, Alexandra L Jenkins, Lawrence A Leiter, Thomas MS Wolever, Joseph Beyene, Cyril WC Kendall, David JA Jenkins, and John L Sievenpiper. Am J Clin Nutr 2015; 102:914-921 doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.107243.
The score, for those of you following this saga, is now 65 studies with results favoring the sponsor to 5 with unfavorable results. But I will soon be posting another 5 of the former kind.
Today is the official publication date for Soda Politics. This means it should now be available in bookstores and open for review and comment.
For more information, see the book page for it on this site. There you will find the blurbs, reviews, media interviews, and the list of media resources—videos, audios, music, movies, commercials, and anti-commercials—that I ran across while working on the book.
Emily was a student in NYU’s anthropology department and I’ve admired her work for a long time. Her book is based on her remarkable dissertation work, and I was happy to be asked to blurb it:
Emily Yates-Doerr gives us an anthropologist’s tough analysis of how one resource-poor Guatemalan population responds to an increasingly globalized food supply as it transitions rapidly from widespread hunger and malnutrition to the increasing prevalence of obesity and its health consequences. The Weight of Obesity views this “nutrition transition” from the unusually revealing perspective of an insider who experienced it personally with eyes wide open.
For me, the most riveting parts of her book are the transcribed conversations between clinic nutritionists and patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—a case study in the cultural gap between nutrient-based advice (“nutritionism”) and the way people actually eat. The effects of the rapid influx of “ultra-processed” products on the health of the populations studied here are also painfully clear. This is an ethnography of the nutrition transition caught just as these cultural and dietary shifts were occurring.
Thanks to Andy Bellatti for noticing this at his local Las Vegas Whole Foods.
This reminds me so much of the Low-Carb craze way back in 2005.
Oh well. Whatever works.
Let me start with a reminder that since mid-March I’ve been collecting examples of studies funded by food companies or trade associations that come up with results favorable to the sponsor’s interests. I post them five at a time. I am having a hard time finding industry-funded studies that do not favor the sponsor’s interests. If you run across any, please send. Here’s the latest collection.
Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Estefanía Toledo, MD, MPH, PhD; Jordi Salas-Salvadó, MD, PhD; Carolina Donat-Vargas, PharmD; et al. JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 14, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838
Evaluation of 4-methylimidazole, in the Ames/Salmonella test using induced rodent liver and lung S9 Carol Beevers1,* and Richard H. Adamson. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., Article first published online: 10 SEP 2015. DOI: 10.1002/em.21968.
Reduced Symptoms of Inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Dienke J Bos, Bob Oranje, E Sanne Veerhoek, Rosanne M Van Diepen, Juliette MH Weusten, Hans Demmelmair, Berthold Koletzko, Monique GM de Sain-van der Velden, Ans Eilander, Marco Hoeksma, and Sarah Durston. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Sep; 40(10): 2298–2306. Published online 2015 Apr 22. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.73.
Milk Modulates Campylobacter Invasion into Caco-2 Intestinal Epithelial Cells. Rogier Louwen, R. J. Joost van Neerven. European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology 5 (2015) 3, pp. 1–7 2015. doi:10.1556/1886.2015.00019.
Effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12®, on defecation frequency in healthy subjects with low defecation frequency and abdominal discomfort: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. Dorte Eskesen, Lillian Jespersen, Birgit Michelsen, Peter J. Whorwell, Stefan Müller-Lissner and Cathrine M. Morberg. British Journal of Nutrition. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515003347 , 9 pages. Published online: 18 September 2015.
Sunday’s New York Times carried this full-page advertisement.
The ad is from Cocoa Via, a company owned by Mars. It quotes a dietitian stating that cocoa flavanols “support healthy blood flow…which allows oxygen and nutrients to get to your heart more easily.”
The ad directs you to the full story at nytinmes.com/cocoavia (where you see more ads).
I posted the science behind this ad earlier this month in my collection of industry-funded studies with results favorable to the sponsor’s interests. To repeat:
Cocoa flavanol intake improves endothelial function and Framingham Risk Score in healthy men and women: a randomised, controlled, double-masked trial: the Flaviola Health Study. Roberto Sansone, Ana Rodriguez-Mateos , Jan Heuel, David Falk, Dominik Schuler, Rabea Wagstaff, Gunter G. C. Kuhnle, Jeremy P. E. Spencer, Hagen Schroeter, Marc W. Merx, Malte Kelm and Christian Heiss for the Flaviola Consortium, European Union 7th Framework Program. British Journal of Nutrition, September 9, 2015. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002822.
Now we have a full-page ad in the New York Times.
Here’s what the ad does not say:
Like most conflicted research, this is about marketing—hence, the ad—not science.
Really, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) report shouldn’t be this controversial and shouldn’t be controversial at all (as I’ve said before). But lots of people—the food industry, of course, but also some scientists and journalists—seem to have exceptionally intense opinions about the fat recommendations [Recall: The DGAC report does not constitute the Dietary Guidelines; these are written by USDA and HHS and are not due out until the end of this year].
Now, we have the journalist Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, repeating the themes of her book in the BMJ: The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?.
The BMJ has also found that the committee’s report used weak scientific standards, reversing recent efforts by the government to strengthen the scientific review process. This backsliding seems to have made the report vulnerable to internal bias as well as outside agendas.
Teicholz’s interpretation of the science relating dietary fat to health has been thoroughly critiqued (see end of post). The way I see it, these arguments are difficult to resolve outside the context of dietary patterns as a whole.
My hypothesis (note: hypothesis) is that for people who balance calorie intake with expenditure, the type of fat—or carbohydrate—matters much less than it does for people who overeat calories. This hypothesis needs testing to confirm it.
What troubles me about Teicholz’s work is the certainty with which she presents her ideas. She comes across as utterly convinced she is right, even in the face of substantial and substantive criticism of her statements and interpretations.
At least one error
Here, for example, is one statement in the BMJ article that I know from personal experience cannot be correct.
Much has been written about how industries try to influence nutrition policy, so it is surprising that unlike authors in most major medical journals, guideline committee members are not required to list their potential conflicts of interest.
I was a member of the 1995 DGAC and I was required to declare conflicts of interest. So were members of the committees in 2000, 2005, and 2010, as shown in this excellent short video.
Later, discussing conflicts of interest among DGAC members, Teicholz says:
Still, it’s important to note that in a field where public research dollars are scarce, nearly all nutrition scientists accept funding from industry. [Nearly all? I don’t, and I doubt this is correct]. Of far greater influence is likely to be bias in favor of an institutionalized hypothesis as well as a “white hat” bias to distort information for what is perceived as righteous ends.
The “white hat bias” comment refers to a paper by authors who themselves report food-industry funding:
Competing Interests. Drs. Allison and Cope have received grants, honoraria, donations, and consulting fees from numerous food, beverage, dietary supplement, pharmaceutical companies, litigators, and other commercial, government, and nonprofit entities with interests in obesity and nutrition including in interests in breastfeeding and NSBs. Dr. Cope has recently accepted a position with The Solae Company (St Louis, MO.).
Responses to the BMJ article
The DGAC wrote a rebuttal to Teicholz. It is published on the BMJ website.
HHS also published a statement, reproduced by Mother Jones.
The British Medical Journal’s decision to publish this article is unfortunate given the prevalence of factual errors. HHS and USDA required the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to conduct a rigorous, systematic and transparent review of the current body of nutrition science. Following an 19-month open process, documented for the public on DietaryGuidelines.gov, the external expert committee submitted its report to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA. HHS and USDA are considering the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, along with comments from the public and input from federal agencies, as we develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to be released later this year.
Yoni Freedhoff’s Weighty Matters blog provides a handy summary of additional responses to the BMJ article.
Scientific analysis of The Big Fat Surprise
Many of the scientific claims in this book seemed so far-fetched that they induced a nutritionist, Seth Yoder, to go over it line by line, read the references, and point out discrepancies. These are posted on his website in two parts.
A summary quote from Part 1:
What makes this particular book interesting is not so much that it is bad (which it is) or that it is extravagantly biased (which it also is). No, what really fascinates me about this book is that the author excessively and shamelessly lifts other people’s material.
And a quote from Part 2
The Big Fat Surprise (BFS) by Nina Teicholz is yet another book in a long line of books that informs the reader that everything you thought you knew about nutrition is wrong: saturated fat from animals is actually quite good for you, cholesterol isn’t really important, the government lied to you, nutritionists and dietitians lied to you, the American Heart Association lied to you, etc… Leaving aside that the concept of that kind of a conspiracy actually existing is really absurd, what I’m surprised about is that publishers can keep churning out books like this and people are gullible enough to keep buying them.
Here’s a sweet conclusion to this week’s sugar theme (#5):
How do bakeries do this? I have no idea.
But this particular bakery at first refused to make the cake.
It worried about potential copyright violation (I’m not kidding).
Well, it’s too late to sue. The evidence has been consumed.