by Marion Nestle
Jul 29 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: Hass Avocados again

The study: Using the Avocado to Test the Satiety Effects of a Fat-Fiber Combination in Place of Carbohydrate Energy in a Breakfast Meal in Overweight and Obese Men and Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial.  Zhu L, et al.  Nutrients 2019, 11, 952; doi:10.3390/nu11050952.

Conclusions: Replacing carbohydrates in a high-carbohydrate meal with avocado-derived fat-fiber combination increased feelings of satiety mediated primarily by PYY [peptide YY] vs. insulin. These findings may have important implications for addressing appetite management and metabolic concerns.

Funding: This research was supported by the Hass Avocado Board, Irvine, CA, USA.

Comment: Why does the Hass Avocado Board fund studies like this?  Because it generates headlines like this one: “Study finds avocados curb appetite and help with weight loss.

Oops.  This is not what the study actually found.  As I learned from Obesity and Energetics Offerings (an exceptionally useful weekly compendium of articles having to do with energy balance), the discrepancy between what the study’s findings and what got reported merited its inclusion in OEO’s “Headline vs. Study” category.

Sponsored research is often about headlines, not science.

It’s also about advertising.  Here’s an ad that the Hass Avocado people sent out to all members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Although the Academy noted this was an advertisement, here’s what it looked like (thanks to my colleague Lisa Sasson for sending):

I love avocados but wish the Hass people would stick with how delicious they are and fund research on something more useful, like resistance to pests or climate change, maybe.

No such luck.  Here’s the request for proposals I just received:

The Hass Avocado Board seeks short letters of intent for the following nutrition research:

Observational data to characterize the relationship between avocado intake and incidence of diabetes and associated risk factors

  • RFP’s are due August 16 and can be mailed to Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Direct funding limit is $50,000 with 10% indirect funding allowance
  • The decision for funding will be determined by reviews by external experts and current research priorities
  • Research must adhere to the Hass Avocado Board’s guiding principles

Thank you,
Nikki A Ford, PhD
Senior Director of Nutrition
Avocado Nutrition Center, Hass Avocado Board