Industry-funded research studies: the egg industry
I read a report in the Washington Post discussing a study done by Neal Barnard and his colleagues associated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group advocating for plant-based diets and animal welfare.
More than 85 percent of the studies in Barnard’s meta-analysis, whether funded by industry or not, showed that eggs have unfavorable effects on blood cholesterol. Industry-funded studies, Barnard found, were more likely to play down these findings.
The study, a meta-analysis, reviewed 153 studies examining the effects of eggs on blood cholesterol levels. It found the proportion of egg studies funded by the egg industry to have increased since 2010, and the industry-sponsored results to be spun—no surprise—in favor of the benefits of eggs.
This matters because advice in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is unhelpful about eggs.
Here’s how I explained the confusion in my January 7, 2016 post:
Cholesterol: the recommendation to limit cholesterol has been dropped, but the document says, confusingly, that “this change does not suggest that dietary cholesterol is no longer important to consider when building healthy eating patterns. As recommended by the IOM, individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern.” Could the dropping of the limit have anything to do with egg-industry funding of research on eggs, the largest source of dietary cholesterol, and blood cholesterol? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has just filed a lawsuit on that very point.
The lawsuit was about undue influence of the egg industry, but the judge threw the suit out of court because no legal standard exists for undue influence. Oh.
What to do about eggs? I vote for moderation, of course.