by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Dairy

Apr 8 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: dairy and chronic disease

This is one of my ongoing updates of industry-funded studies such as those discussed in my most recent book, Unsavory Truth.

Here’s this week’s example:

Funding sources and outcomes of dairy consumption research – a meta-analysis of cohort studies: The case of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  Moshe Mishali, Mirit Kisner,Tova Avrech.  International Dairy Journal, accepted and in press 2019.

The study: The authors asked whether the source of funding was associated with the results of studies examining the association of dairy food intake with the risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Conclusion:  “This meta-analysis found that the funding source (i.e., food industry sponsorship versus neutral organisations sponsorship) did not affect the findings of studies in terms of the association between dairy consumption and the risk of developing type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases…This meta-analysis suggests that research funded by the dairy industry might not deserve the same dismissive treatment that other industry-funded studies might merit.”

Funder: “This work was supported by the Israel Dairy Board Research – Fund (DBRF). Declaration of interest Moshe Mishali is a consultant for the Israel Dairy Board; Mirit Kisner was paid for her work by the Israel Dairy Board; Tova Avrech is Chief Health Officer at the Israel Dairy Board.”

Comment: This study was commissioned by the Israel Dairy Board specifically to address “The radicalised discourse that emerged in recent years [which] sees industry-funded research as inherently biased due to the obvious vested interests of any industry that initiates and funds certain studies…We sought to check if the suspicion is warranted when it comes to the dairy industry.”

These conclusions are consistent with those of Wilde et al (2012), although that study found that independently funded research included the only studies with results unfavorable to dairy (3 out of 16), whereas the industry-funded research came out 100% in favor of dairy products.

I would find the arguments about the benefits of dairy food more convincing if they were funded and conducted by investigators with no skin in the game.

Apr 1 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: chocolate milk for teenage athletes

After the debacle over Fifth Quarter Fresh that I wrote about in Unsavory Truth, you might think that sellers of chocolate milk would stop trying to prove it anything other than a sugary milk drink.  But no, here’s another one.

Chocolate Milk versus carbohydrate supplements in adolescent athletes: a field based study.  Katelyn A. Born, Erin E. Dooley, P. Andy Cheshire, Lauren E. McGill, Jonathon M. Cosgrove, John L. Ivy and John B. Bartholomew.  Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2019) 16:6.

Method: “Participants were randomly-assigned to receive either CM [chocolate milk] or CHO [carbohydrate] immediately post-exercise.”

Conclusion: “CM had a more positive effect on strength development and should be considered an appropriate post-exercise recovery supplement for adolescents.”

Funder: Dairy MAX [“nonprofit dairy council representing more than 900 dairy farm families across seven states”].

Comment: The premise of this study is that drinks containing a combination of carbohydrate and protein have been shown to provide better recovery from vigorous exercise than drinks containing carbohydrate or protein alone.  Chocolate milk contains both.  This study compared it to a carbohydrate-only sports drink, making this an excellent example of how to design a study to give you the desired result.

Feb 13 2019

Another casualty of trade disputes: Cheese

The Wall Street Journal reports this mind-boggling statistic:  Cheese producers have put 1.4 billion pounds in cold storage in the hope that the market will improve and prices will rise.

Compared to other countries, Americans do not eat much cheese—35 pounds or so per capita per year.

That may be a lot less that the amount consumed in Denmark and other cheese-loving countries, but watch out for the calories: pound of cheese is 1100-1800 calories or more, depending on type.

Jan 7 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: Mediterranean diet plus dairy foods

Christopher Gardner, the Stanford scientist who studies the ways various dietary patterns affect body weight, sent me this study to add to my post-book collection (I wrote about such things in Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, just out).

Soon after Dr. Gardner sent this to me, I read about this study in DairyReporter.com.  Its account had this headline: “Mediterranean diet with added dairy shown to improve heart health in Australia.”  It said nothing about funding source (it should have).

The study:

Title: A Mediterranean diet supplemented with dairy foods improves markers of cardiovascular risk: results from the MedDairy randomized controlled trial.  Alexandra T Wade, Courtney R Davis, Kathryn A Dyer, Jonathan M Hodgson, Richard J Woodman, and Karen J Murphy.  Am J Clin Nutr 2018;108:1166–1182.

Rationale: The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) “may not meet Western recommendations for calcium and dairy intake.”  Translation: Australians don’t eat enough dairy foods.

Objective: Determine the effect of a MedDiet supplemented with dairy foods (MedDairy) on blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Design:  The study compared the effects of consuming two different diets, (1) a MedDiet with 3–4 daily servings of dairy (MedDairy) versus (2) a lowfat control diet (LowFat).

Results: Participants on MedDairy reduced their blood pressure and other CVD risk factors.

Conclusion:  “The MedDiet supplemented with dairy may be appropriate for an improvement in cardiovascular risk factors in a population at risk of CVD.”

Funding: “Supported by a Dairy Australia Research Grant.”

Dr. Gardner’s comments: the study does not compare the MedDiet to MedDairy.  Instead, it compares MedDairy to LowFat—whatever people habitually eat, but restricted in fat.

In this study, compared to the LowFat group, the MedDairy group ate:

  •  More fat
  •  Less refined grain
  •  More legumes
  •  Less red meat
  •  More meat substitutes
  •  More nuts and seeds
  •  And, yes, more dairy (mostly yogurt)

Even so, the LowFat group lost more fat mass and gained more lean body mass than did the MedDairy group, but the authors do not mention that in the abstract and don’t make a big deal about it.

But they do say this in their discussion:

However, the use of an LF [LowFat] control diet may limit the generalizability of our results, as well as our capacity to evaluate the benefits of adding dairy to a traditional MedDiet.

Precisely.

Jan 3 2019

FoodNavigator.com on what’s happening in the dairy industry

I think this collection of articles from FoodNavigator on the dairy industry is especially clear in revealing three notable trends: (1) the ongoing decline in milk consumption, (2) a more recent decline in yogurt consumption, and (3) an increase in production, availability, and marketing of dairy products high in fat.  Take a look:

 Special Edition: Dairy innovation

It’s been a challenging year for many dairy brands, with continued weakness in fluid milk and yogurt categories and growing competition from dairy-free alternatives. But there has been no shortage of innovation, spanning everything from ‘intentionally less sweet’ high protein yogurt launches to  whole milk and even ‘triple cream’ offerings as fat roars back in some parts of the category.

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Nov 19 2018

A2 milk: still making claims based on industry-funded research

I haven’t said anything about A2 milk—milk from cows producing a different form of casein protein than cows producing regular A1 casein—since coming across it in Australia nearly three years ago.

Then, I was impressed that the manufacturer’s claims for A2 milk’s better digestibility were based entirely on studies paid for by—surprise!—the manufacturer (as I explain in my latest book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eatfood industry funding of nutrition research produces highly predictable results and, therefore, is not good for science, public health, or trust).

Now those companies are trying to sell A2 milk here (at a higher price, of course).

According to FoodNavigator-USA, the US dairy industry is not happy about these claims and brought them up before the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, which referred the matter to the Federal Trade Commission.

At issue is the quality of the industry-funded research.

It’s easy to understand the dairy industry’s view that A2 milk will take market share away from conventional milk at a time when milk sales have been declining for years.

As for the benefits of A2 milk?  As with so many health claims, I’m betting that this one is more about marketing than health.

Caveat emptor.

 

Jul 25 2018

Eat less meat: more evidence from climate change and health

GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) have issued a devastating report on the effects of meat and dairy production on climate change.

 

The report’s principal finding:

At issue are demands for growth in the meat and dairy industries.

The report explains:

Current industrial levels of production cannot be sustained, nor can growth models for meat and dairy remain unchanged. The paradox of the corporate business model based on high rates of annual growth versus the urgent climate imperative to scale back meat and dairy production and consumption in affluent countries and populations is untenable.

Its inevitable conclusion:

cheap meat and dairy comes at a high cost due to social, environmental and animal welfare problems that continue to be under-regulated. In addition, this production is only made possible because the corporations receive an indirect subsidy from taxpayers in the form of government-funded price supports that keep grain cheap.  

It is past time to regulate the industry and redirect the massive subsidies and other public expenditures that currently support the big meat and dairy conglomerates towards local food and farming systems capable of looking after people and the planet.

That’s the challenge.  The need to address it is urgent.  Let’s get to work.

Also see:

Meat consumption, health, and the environment.  Science July 20, 2018.  Authors: H. Charles J. Godfray, Paul Aveyard, Tara Garnett, Jim W. Hall, Timothy J. Key, Jamie Lorimer, Ray T. Pierrehumbert, Peter Scarborough, Marco Springmann, Susan A. Jebb.

This lengthy, extensively illustrated and referenced article covers much of the same territory but with greater emphasis on the health impact of meat consumption, and the amounts of water used in meat production, primarily from feed.

Apr 17 2018

China is eating more dairy foods. Is this good?

I will never understand the push to increase dairy consumption in China.

Many if not most Asian adults lack the enzyme that digests the lactose in milk.  Undigested lactose tends to pass unscathed to the large intestine where bacteria ferment it, producing gas and diarrhea.

So why dairy products?

More protein to promote growth, is what they say.

An article in DairyReporter quotes Mintel research as saying the Chinese are eating more cheese, yogurt, and added protein.

The rising demand for dairy in China, growing at 6% to 7% rate annually, is teetering on outpacing volume growth of the category (increasing by 3% to 4% every year) as the country shows great interest in dairy products, according to Mintel.

The Chinese Nutrition Society issued updated dietary guidelines for Chinese consumers in 2016, recommending that each adult should consume 300 grams (10.6 ounces) of dairy products per day – current consumption is 100 grams (3.5 ounces).

The dairy industry is thrilled:

There is still opportunity for growth of dairy consumption in China, especially from lower tier markets, as a result of consumers’ growing awareness of nutrition intake, increasing household income levels, and the accelerated urbanization process.

Exporters of dairy products to China are particularly thrilled:

Imported dairy products are still in high demand due to the some food safety concerns surrounding China’s domestic dairy products leading to a consumer perception that international dairy products are of higher quality.

Environmentalists are not so thrilled.

One consequence: the replacement of sheep by cows in New Zealand, which now has heavily polluted waterways.

Another: China’s dairy farms are huge, with herds of 50,000 to 100,000 cows.  Just think of what their waste does to the environment.

 

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