Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Feb 27 2016

Three books about eating: 2. The Practice of Eating

This is the second of three books about eating.  The first is here.

Alan Warde.  The Practice of Eating. Polity, 2016.

This is a sociologist’s attempt to establish a theory of food consumption.  Advances in theory, he says, have been limited for three reasons:

First, eating has been looked at as a series of practical problems, as a terrain of crises.  Second, the topic has been dealt with in multidisciplinary contexts where theoretical synthesis has had low priority.  Third, consumption remains subordinated to concern about production.

This book makes up for those deficiencies and will be greatly appreciated by graduate students of sociology, food studies, and other academic disciplines.

Feb 26 2016

Corrections to the list of industry-funded studies: the count is again 135/12.

Readers have filed corrections to previous postings on industry-funded studies (see here and here).  I am most grateful for their sharp eyes.  No excuses, but I’m having a hard time keeping them straight because there are so many, some are published first online and then again in print, and sometimes I just get them wrong.  Apologies.

The corrections reduce the count to 132/12.  But here are three more to bring it back up to 135/12.

Management of obesity.  George A Bray, Gema Frühbeck, Donna H Ryan, John P H Wilding.  The Lancet.  Published online February 8, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00271-3.

  • Conclusion: For patients who struggle with weight loss and who would receive health benefit from weight loss, management of medications that are contributing to weight gain and use of approved medications for chronic weight management along with lifestyle changes are appropriate. Medications approved in the USA or European Union are orlistat, naltrexone/bupropion, and liraglutide; in the USA, lorcaserin and phentermine/topiramate are also available. Surgical management (gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and Roux-en Y gastric bypass) can produce remarkable health improvement and reduce mortality for patients with severe obesity.
  • Declaration of interests GAB is a consultant to Herbalife International and Medifast; a member of the Speakers Bureau for Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals and Takeda Pharmaceuticals; and receives royalties from Up-to-Date and Handbook of Obesity. GF is a consultant to Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals. DHR is a consultant to Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Eisai Pharmaceuticals, Vivus Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Amgen Pharmaceuticals, Real Appeal, Gila Therapeutics, Tulip Medical, and Scientific Intake; is on the speakers’ bureau for Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Eisai Pharmaceuticals, and Vivus Pharmaceuticals; and has equity ownership in Scientifi c Intake. JPHW received grant funding from Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca, and is a consultant to Novo Nordisk, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, and Pfi zer Pharmaceuticals.

The effects of potatoes and other carbohydrate side dishes consumed with meat on food intake, glycemia and satiety response in children.  R Akilen, N Deljoomanesh, S Hunschede, CE Smith, MU Arshad, R Kubant and GH Anderson.  Nutrition & Diabetes (2016) 6, e195; doi:10.1038/nutd.2016.1

  • Conclusions: The physiological functions of CHO foods consumed ad libitum at meal time on food intake, appetite, BG, insulin and gut hormone responses in children is not predicted by the GI [glycemic index].
  • Acknowledgements: This study was supported by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE).
  • Comment: David Ludwig, M.D., PhD says: “Potatoes are at the top of the list for weight gain according to the best epidemiological research studies. A small new study claimed that potatoes actually had beneficial effects on appetite. There’s just one thing: The study was fully funded by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education, whose mission is to ‘recognize the role of all forms of the potato in promoting health for all age groups.’”  Here’s the press release from the Alliance for Potato Research & Education.

Nutrient Intakes and Vegetable and White Potato Consumption by Children Aged 1 to 3 Years.  Maureen L Storey and Patricia A Anderson.  doi: 10.3945/​an.115.008656.  Adv Nutr January 2016 Adv Nutr vol. 7: 241S-246S, 2016.

  • Conclusion: The consumption of all vegetables, particularly those that are excellent sources of potassium and DF, such as potatoes, should be encouraged.
  • Funding: Presented at the Roundtable on Science and Policy: Adopting a Fruitful Vegetable Encounter for Our Children. The roundtable was sponsored by the USDA/Agricultural Research Service Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, and was held in Chicago, IL, 10–11 November 2014. The roundtable and supplement publication were supported by an unrestricted grant from the Alliance for Potato Research and Education. The roundtable speakers received travel funding and an honorarium for participation in the meeting and manuscript preparation. Author disclosures: ML Storey is a paid employee of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education; PA Anderson is a paid consultant for the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.
  • Comment: Potato trade associations must be really worried about views like those of Dr. Ludwig.  Personally, I love potatoes and think they are delicious but should be eaten in moderation of course, and not in the form of French fries.  Speculation: I wonder if frequent consumption of French fries could be a marker of unhealthful diets in general?
Feb 25 2016

Food Navigator-USA’s Special Edition on on Oils and fats

Is fat really good or bad and, one way or the other, is it really back?

Food Navigator-USA has an interest in fats from the perspective of companies that use them in food processing.  Here’s what it says:

Fats are often classed into good, bad and ugly categories. But do consumers know which are which, and how can manufacturers help increase consumption of the healthier variety (MUFAs and PUFAs) and reduce trans- and saturated fats (and that’s assuming that saturated fats really are the bogeyman many dietitians have made them out to be)?

Protein is hot, sugar is public enemy #1, and fat is back (so the trend-watchers say). But when it comes to good, bad and ugly fats, does everyone agree on which are which? Check out our gallery of insights from consumers, industry stakeholders, and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee…

Cobram Estate will enter US to fill what it says is a void in high quality, extra virgin olive oilsAward winning Australian olive oil manufacturer Cobram Estate in February will extend its reach into the competitive US market, which it says suffers a dearth of high quality, extra virgin olive oils. .. Read

Solazyme to launch algae butter in early 2016: We’re offering a hard fat from a completely new sourceSolazyme is aiming to launch the latest addition to its micro-algae-based ingredients portfolio in early 2016 – an algae butter – which it says could replace hard fats such as palm oil or partially hydrogenated oils in a variety of applications spanning confectionery, bakery and spreads… Read

Do we need new labeling conventions around fully hydrogenated oils?Fully hydrogenated oils (FHOs) do not create harmful trans-fats, and could replace partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in many applications. However, manufacturers are reluctant to use them because the word ‘hydrogenated’ has become “demonized”, argues one expert, who says efforts are underway to find an alternative name for FHOs that will satisfy manufacturers, consumers, and regulators.  .. Read

Judge stays Gen Mills trans fat lawsuit, but FDA has left firms exposed to civil litigation, argue attorneysIn a ruling that will be read with interest by food manufacturers worried about being sued for using partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), a judge in California has stayed a PHO-related class action vs General Mills until the FDA decides whether certain low-level uses should be permitted… Read

JM Smucker to settle lawsuit over ‘all natural’ claims on Crisco oils made with GMOsJM Smucker has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of misleading shoppers by labeling selected Crisco cooking oil as ‘all natural’, according to court papers filed in New York… Read

Solazyme unveils Thrive, the first culinary algae oil in the market and its first consumer food brandMicroalgae specialist Solazyme has moved into the consumer packaged goods (CPG) arena with the launch of Thrive, a culinary oil from algae that will make its debut at upmarket grocer Gelson’s Markets in southern California this week… Read

Solazyme expands algae oil JV with Bunge to develop ‘breakthrough” products for food and animal nutritionSan Francisco-based microalgae pioneer Solazyme has expand its joint venture with oils expert Bunge to develop a “range of breakthrough oils for food and products for animal nutrition”… Read

Extra virgin olive oil exec: You wouldn’t buy rotten meat or stale bread, so why are you buying rotten olive oil?Claims that much of the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) sold in US supermarket is not ‘extra virgin’ at all are hardly new. But the fact that many retail buyers are effectively turning a blind eye to such widespread fraud is immensely frustrating for companies that are playing by the rules, says one industry expert… Read

FDA revokes GRAS status of partially hydrogenated oils; allows food industry to file petition to permit specific usesAs widely expected, the FDA has finalized plans to revoke the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in a bid to eradicate artificial trans fats from the US food supply. However, it says manufacturers may petition the agency to permit specific uses of PHOs… Read

Feb 23 2016

More industry-funded studies. The score: 135/12. Correction: 132/12.

Corrections, February 25:  Several readers have written in to comment that two of these papers do not actually appear to benefit the sponsors.  I have written their comments in red.  A reader also filed a correction to one of listings for February 18.  That brings the score down to 132/12.

It’s been 11 months since I started collecting studies funded by food companies with results favorable to the company’s marketing interests.  I’ve now found 135 such studies versus just 12 with results unfavorable.

When the year is up, I will do an overall interpretation of what this collection does and does not signify, but for the moment I will just state the obvious: it is easier to find industry-funded studies with favorable rather than unfavorable results.

Enjoy this week’s collection.

Latin American Study of Nutrition and Health (ELANS): rationale and study design. M. Fisberg, I. Kovalskys, G. Gómez, A. Rigotti, L. Y. Cortés, M. Herrera-Cuenca, M. C. Yépez, R. G. Pareja,Guajardo, I. Z. Zimberg, A. D. P. Chiavegatto Filho, M. Pratt, B. Koletzko, K. L. Tucker and the ELANS Study Group. BMC Public Health (2016) 16:93.  DOI 10.1186/s12889-016-2765-y.

  • Conclusion: This study will provide valuable information and a unique dataset regarding Latin America that will enable cross-country comparisons of nutritional statuses that focus on energy and macro- and micronutrient intakes, food patterns, and energy expenditure.
  • Funding: The ELANS study and authors were partially supported by a scientific grant from the Coca Cola Company and by different grants and support from the Instituto Pensi/Hospital Infantil Sabara, International Life Science Institute of Argentina, Universidad de Costa Rica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad Central de Venezuela (CENDESUCV)/Fundación Bengoa, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and Instituto de Investigación Nutricional de Peru. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, the decision to publish, or the preparation of this manuscript. KLT received consulting fees from the Coca Cola Company to participate. MF is member of the directory of Danone Institute International.
  • A reader writes: Coca-Cola undoubtedly hopes that this study will support their efforts to put the blame on lack of exercise. However, the present paper gives no data, and the design does not seem biased. I do not think this paper can support marketing of Coca-Cola.  My response: OK.  Let’s call this one neutral and delete it from the list.

Biofortified yellow cassava and vitamin A status of Kenyan children: a randomized contr.  Am J Clin Nutr 2016; 103:258-267 doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.100164

  • Conclusion: In our study population, consumption of yellow cassava led to modest gains in serum retinol concentration and a large increase in β-carotene concentration. It can be an efficacious, new approach to improve vitamin A status.
  • Funding: Supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 211484, conducted within the framework of INSTAPA Project. HarvestPlus provided financial support for biochemical analyses and supplies. Capsugel (Bornem, Belgium), Laboratory&Allied (Nairobi, Kenya), DSM Nutritional Products/Sight and Life (Basel, Switzerland), and Laboratorium Medisan (Heerenveen, Netherlands) provided financial and technical support in producing supplements…None of the authors reported a conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design, implementation, analysis, or interpretation of the data.
  • A reader writes: This study came out somewhat favorably for yellow cassava (non-GMO) and thus for HarvestPlus, but HarvestPlus is a charity with no commercial interests. DSM company provided the carotene capsules for the positive control group, but the study shows you might as well eat cassava naturally high in carotene instead of capsules.  My response: This one is not industry-funded.  Delete from list.

Effects of Diet Composition and Insulin Resistance Status on Plasma Lipid Levels in a Weight Loss Intervention in Women.Tran Le, BA; Shirley W. Flatt, MS; Loki Natarajan, PhD; Bilge Pakiz, EdD; Elizabeth L. Quintana, MS, RD Dennis D. Heath, MS1; Brinda K. Rana, PhD; Cheryl L. Rock, PhD, RD.  J Am Heart Assoc.2016; 5: e002771.  Originally published January 25, 2016.  doi: 10.1161/JAHA.115.002771.

  • Conclusions Weight loss was similar across the diet groups, although insulin‐sensitive women lost more weight with a lower fat, higher carbohydrate diet versus a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet. The walnut‐rich, higher fat diet resulted in the most favorable changes in lipid levels.
  • Funding: This study was supported by the NIH (CA155435) and the California Walnut Commission.

Regular Fat and Reduced Fat Dairy Products Show Similar Associations with Markers of Adolescent Cardiometabolic Health. Therese A. O’Sullivan, Alexandra P. Bremner, Trevor A. Mori, Lawrence J. Beilin, Charlotte Wilson, Katherine Hafekost, Gina L. Ambrosini, Rae Chi Huang and Wendy H. Oddy.   Nutrients 2016, 8(1), 22; doi:10.3390/nu8010022.

  • Conclusions: Although regular fat dairy was associated with a slightly better cholesterol profile in boys, overall, intakes of both regular fat and reduced fat dairy products were associated with similar cardiometabolic associations in adolescents.
  • Funding: Therese A. O’Sullivan received a grant from The Dairy Health and Nutrition Consortium Australia (DHNC-MetX06-2011) which provided funding for the analysis and write up of this study. No other authors declare a conflict of interest.

Concord grape juice, cognitive function, and driving performance: a 12-wk, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial in mothers of preteen children. Daniel J Lamport, Clare L Lawton, Natasha Merat, Hamish Jamson, Kyriaki Myrissa, Denise Hofman, Helen K Chadwick, Frits Quadt, JoLynne D Wightman, and Louise Dye. AJCN. First published ahead of print February 10, 2016 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.114553.

  • Conclusions: Cognitive benefits associated with the long-term consumption of flavonoid-rich grape juice are not exclusive to adults with mild cognitive impairment. Moreover, these cognitive benefits are apparent in complex everyday tasks such as driving. Effects may persist beyond the cessation of flavonoid consumption….
  • Funding:  Supported by Welch Foods Inc…. JDW is an employee of Welch Foods Inc. None of the other authors reported a conflict of interest.
  • Comment: Welch sent out a press release: “New research by the University of Leeds in the UK suggests that drinking Concord grape juice daily can benefit certain aspects of memory and everyday tasks in people with stressful lifestyles – specifically working mothers.”  Yoni Freedhoff has additional comments on Weighty Matters:Welch’s Study Finds Grape Juice Makes You Smarter #NotTheOnion.
Feb 22 2016

Energy drink marketing, Australia style

Alexandra Jones, of the University of Sydney’s George Institute for Global Health, was kind enough to forward the promotional activities of V, a New Zealand energy drink, on college campuses during orientation week.

These, to say the least, got my attention.

According to the company’s promotional materials (take a look!), it wants colleges to agree to let it:

  • Put used textbooks into college libraries that V carves out with V-shaped holes.
  • Give prizes including free product, cash, and “life-hack” recommendations such as “sneak booze into anywhere by hollowing out a baguette.”
  • Appoint brand ambassadors to hand out sample cans like “an energetic Christmas charity drive”
  • Conduct ongoing activities throughout the academic year including sending “sneaky ninja staff” into campus libraries to hide V promotions and prizes among the “less helpful, less exciting actual books.”

Here’s how:

We’re going to take an elephant-load of used textbooks and cut a V-shaped hole in the pages.  We’ll put in fake V cans with a super mysterious mystery prize in it.  Most of the time it’ll be free Vs.  Sometimes it’ll be a fistful of cash, but they’ll always have a life-hack recommendation with it.  For example, if it’s a beginner’s Spanish book, the hack says,”¿le gustaria ir a cenar?” is how you say, “would you like to go to dinner,” in Spanish.  As the hot girl/guy in your class and use this $500 for some fancy tapas and sangria (Spanish food).

I suppose this is meant to be funny and $500 ought to be enough for a good dinner, even at inflated Sydney restaurant prices.

Will librarians be amused?

The faculty, understandably, is not.

The campaign has been pitched to Sydney Uni.  Will the university agree to it?

The mind boggles.

Addition, Feb 25: Here’s an article about this.

Feb 20 2016

Weekend reading: Three books about eating: 1. First Bite

You might think that eating is one of those things that comes naturally, but for the next three weeks I’m going to be posting books telling us how.  Here’s the first:

Bee Wilson.  First Bite: How We Learn to Eat. Basic Books, 2015.

Bee Wilson speaks from experience.  She once was a picky eater bordering on having an eating disorder.  Simply eating when hungry and stopping when full is a challenge for many of us.  Wilson explores how food preferences are acquired or made and how culture and environment turn biological needs into obesity-promoting hazards.  Her advice boils down to aphorisms, for example:

  • No one is too busy to cook.
  • Eat soup.
  • Rethink what counts as a main course.
  • Regular exercise definitely helps.
  • If you want your children to eat better, don’t tell them what to do: eat better yourself.
Feb 19 2016

Food-Navigator USA’s collection on health & wellness

Health and wellness and terms like natural and organic help food manufacturers sell products.  Food-Navigator-USA.com offers this collection of its articles addressing the question, “What does health & wellness mean to consumers today? We ask what Americans now expect of the food industry, and which innovative firms are best placed to meet their evolving needs.”

  • Mushrooms: The go-to ingredient for 2016?: Mushrooms will feature more prominently in plant- and meat-based dishes in 2016, predicts the Mushroom Council, which says domestic production and value are at an all-time high, while ‘blended’ burgers, meatballs and tacos combining ground meat and chopped mushrooms are gaining significant traction in the foodservice market… Read
  • How ‘progressive consumers’ are redefining health and wellness… and is fat really back?: While cynics observe that biodynamic cane sugar is still sugar, and gourmet Himalayan pink salt is still good old sodium chloride, it’s a fact that trends which might seem to have niche appeal are increasingly heading to the mainstream, and that a small, but increasingly influential group of what Hartman Group calls ‘progressive consumers’ is now redefining food culture. .. Read
  • Marketing Health: Will the healthier option still be the pricier one?: Forget dieting or “cheat days.” Some food industry observers believe the general populace is more concerned for their holistic health, and the CPG industry is taking the hint. By 2020, opening a bag of chips guilt-free doesn’t have to mean splurging more at the “healthy food” part of store shelves… Read
  • C-stores offer growth opportunity for better-for-you brands: Convenience stores, often considered a destination for indulgent, unhealthy snacks, could offer a new growth opportunity for better-for-you brands as the channel’s core audience begins shifting slightly towards more health-conscious shoppers, according to research from the Hudson Institute and Natural Marketing Institute… Read
Feb 18 2016

The collection continues: 5 more funded studies with results favoring the sponsor. The score: 130/12. Correction: 129/12.

Correction: February 24.  A reader points out that one of the studies posted here had already been posted on January 27  as an industry-negative.  Apologies.  Consider it deleted and change the count.

Yesterday’s post was about a study funded by Disney.  It brought the number of studies funded by companies with results favorable to the company to 125 since last March.  I’ve only found 12 with unfavorable results.  Today’s five raise the count to 130/12.

The association between dietary saturated fatty acids and ischemic heart disease depends on the type and source of fatty acid in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition–Netherlands cohortJaike Praagman, Joline WJ Beulens, Marjan Alssema, Peter L Zock, Anne J Wanders, Ivonne Sluijs, and Yvonne T van der Schouw. Am J Clin Nutr 2016; 103:356-365 doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.122671.  I posted this study as industry-negative on January 27; it is listed here in error.  

Dietary plant stanol ester consumption improves immune function in asthma patients: results of a randomized, double-blind clinical trial.  Florence Brüll, Els De Smet, Ronald P Mensink, Anita Vreugdenhil, Anja Kerksiek, Dieter Lütjohann, Geertjan Wesseling, and Jogchum Plat. Am J Clin Nutr 2016; 103:444-453 doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.117531

  • Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, we are among the first authors to show that plant stanol ester consumption improves the immune function in vivo in asthma patients
  • Supported by RAISIO Nutrition LTD. Test products for the study were provided by RAISIO Nutrition LTD…RAISIO Nutrition LTD is a Finnish food company that is involved in life sciences and sells, among other products, the Benecol brand. RAISIO Nutrition LTD had no influence in the setup of the study or the interpretation of the results. None of the authors reported a conflict of interest related to the study.

Low Calorie Beverage Consumption Is Associated with Energy and Nutrient Intakes and Diet Quality in British Adults.  Sigrid A. Gibson, GrahamW. Horgan, Lucy E. Francis, Amelia A. Gibson and Alison M. Stephen.  Nutrients 2016, 8(1), 9; doi:10.3390/nu8010009

  • Conclusion: Results indicate that NC and LCB consumers tend to have higher quality diets compared with SSB or BB consumers and do not compensate for sugar or energy deficits by consuming more sugary foods.
  • Conflicts of Interest: S.G. is director of Sig-Nurture Ltd, an independent consultancy, which has received research funding from food and beverage and ingredient companies, not-for-profit organisations and trade bodies. None of the other authors had a conflict of interest. The sponsors had no role in the design, analysis or interpretation of the study, or in the preparation of the manuscript

Dietary Milk-Fat-Globule Membrane Affects Resistance to Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli in Healthy Adults in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind StudySandra J Ten Bruggencate3,*, Pernille D Frederiksen4, Simon M Pedersen5, Esther G Floris-Vollenbroek3, Elly Lucas-van de Bos3, Els van Hoffen3, and Peter L Wejse5.  J. Nutr. February 1, 2016  vol. 146 no. 2 249-255

  • Conclusion: The present diarrheagenic E. coli challenge trial conducted in healthy adults indicates that a milk concentrate rich in natural, bioactive phospho- and sphingolipids from the MFGM may improve in vivo resistance to diarrheagenic E. coli.
  • Author disclosures: SJ Ten Bruggencate, EG Floris-Vollenbroek, E Lucas-van de Bos, and E van Hoffen, no conflicts of interest. PD Frederiksen is an employee of Arla Foods Ingredients Group P/S (AFI, Denmark), which produces and markets Lacprodan MFGM-10, Lacprodan PL-20, and Capolac MM 0525 BG. SM Pedersen and PL Wejse are employees of Arla Foods amba (Denmark). The sponsor was involved in the writing of the manuscript.
  • Comment:  This is the first time I’ve seen a disclosure of the sponsor’s involvement in the writing of a manuscript.  High marks to the Journal of Nutrition for insisting on this.

A 9-mo randomized clinical trial comparing fat-substituted and fat-reduced diets in healthy obese men: the Ole Study.  George A Bray, Jennifer C Lovejoy, Marlene Most-Windhauser, Steven R Smith, Julia Volaufova, Yvonne Denkins, Lilian de Jonge, Jennifer Rood, Michael Lefevre, Alison L Eldridge, and John C Peters.   Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76: 928–34.

  • Conclusion: Replacement of dietary fat with olestra reduces body weight and total body fat when compared with a 25%-fat diet or a control diet containing 33% fat.
  • Supported in part by…the USDA and by the Procter & Gamble Co, Cincinnati.
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