by Marion Nestle
Apr 11 2022

Industry-funded study of the week: oats (another rare exception)

A reader in Australia, Anthony Power, sent me this one, which he noticed discussed in an article in the Australian The Conversation.

This one is not obviously funder takes all.  Indeed, it might need to be categorized as a rare example of an industry-funded study with results unfavorable to the sponsor’s interests.

The study: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials on the Effects of Oats and Oat Processing on Postprandial Blood Glucose and Insulin ResponsesKathy Musa-VelosoDaniel NooriCarolina Venditti Theresa Poon 1Jodee Johnson 2Laura S Harkness 2Marianne O’Shea 2YiFang Chu 2  J Nutr.  2021 Feb 1;151(2):341-351.  doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa349.

Objectives: The study objective was to determine the effects of differently processed oats on the postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses relative to refined grains.

Conclusions: A disruption in the structural integrity of the oat kernel is likely associated with a loss in the glycemic benefits of oats.

Funding: The systematic review and meta-analysis, as well as the writing of the manuscript, were funded by PepsiCo, Inc.

Conflicts of interest: Author disclosures: KM-V, DN, CV, and TP are employees of Intertek Health   ciences Inc., which has provided consulting services to PepsiCo, Inc. JJ, MO, and YC are employees of PepsiCo, Inc., which manufactures oatmeal products under the brand name Quaker Oats and which funded this systematic review and meta-analysis. LSH is a former employee of PepsiCo, Inc. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of Intertek Health Sciences Inc. or PepsiCo, Inc.

Comment: Oats are good sources of soluble fiber which in some studies helps lower blood cholesterol levels.  PepsiCo owns Quaker Oats, which makes oatmeals of varying degree of integrity.  The least processed ones, according to this review, do the best job.  This means that quick oats have less of a beneficial effect than the longer-to-cook less processed varieties.  As the paper puts it: “The postprandial glycemic and insulin responses
with thin/instant/quick oats were not significantly different from those elicited by the refined grain control.”

PepsiCo currently extols the health benefits of oatmeal on its website, without making a distinction between the Instant and Need-to-be-Cooked-Longer varieties.  Will it change its website in response to this study?  We will see in due course.