by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: PepsiCo

Oct 11 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: artificially-sweetened sodas and calorie intake

The study: Effects of Unsweetened Preloads and Preloads Sweetened with Caloric or Low-/No-Calorie Sweeteners on Subsequent Energy Intakes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Human Intervention Studies.  Han Youl Lee, Maia Jack, Theresa Poon, Daniel Noori, Carolina Venditti, Samer Hamamji, Kathy Musa-Veloso.  Advances in Nutrition, Volume 12, Issue 4, July 2021, Pages 1481–1499.

Methods: Review and meta-analysis of previously published studies.

Conclusions: Unsweetened or LNCS-sweetened preloads appear to have similar effects on intakes when compared with one another or with CS-sweetened preloads. These findings suggest that LNCS-sweetened foods and beverages are viable alternatives to CS-sweetened foods and beverages to manage short-term energy intake.

Funder: “The American Beverage Association provided funding for the work presented herein.”

Author disclosures: MJ is a paid employee of the American Beverage Association. Intertek Health Sciences, Inc.(HYL, TP, DN, CV, SH, KMV), works for the American Beverage Association as paid scientific and regulatory consultants.”

Comment: The great puzzle about artificial sweeteners is that they are not strongly associated with reduced calorie intake in most studies, perhaps because sweet tastes encourage people to eat more calories.  This industry-funded study is designed to counter that idea.  It concludes that low- or no-calorie sweeteners have no special effect on calorie intake.  The American Beverage Association represents soft drink companies, predominantly Coke and Pepsi, most of them manufacturing drinks sweetened with sugars or high-fructose corn syrup (with calories) or chemical sweeteners (no or low-calorie).  These companies are happy to have you buy either kind, and they don’t want you worrying about all the things you’ve heard about artificial sweeteners.

The Association’s rules for research are here.   But it is unlikely to fund proposals for research that might come up with inconvenient conclusions.

Reference: For a summary of research on the “funding effect”—the observations that research sponsored by food companies almost invariably produces results favorable to the sponsor’s interests and that recipients of industry funding typically did not intend to be influenced and do not recognize the influence—see my book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.

Apr 5 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: Hummus this time

Dietary Patterns and Nutritional Status in Relation to Consumption of Chickpeas and Hummus in the U.S. Population.  by  Cara L. Frankenfeld and Taylor C. Wallace.   Appl. Sci. 202010(20), 7341; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10207341

Conclusion: ” Adults who consumed chickpeas and hummus were 48% and 62% less likely to have metabolic syndrome, respectively. Consuming chickpeas or hummus may be a practical means of improving diet quality and nutritional status. ”

Funding:  This research was funded by an investigator-initiated, unrestricted educational grant from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC.

Conflicts of Interest: T.C.W. has received prior research support from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC. C.L.F. declares no conflict of interest. The sponsor had no role in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the manuscript; or the decision where to submit the paper for publication.

Comment: That’s what they all say about the sponsor’s role, despite substantial evidence to the contrary (in many other cases).  Sabra is owned by PepsiCo.

Hat tip: To Daniel Bowmn Simon for sending me this one.

Feb 22 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: a rare exception to the rule?

As a general rule, industry-funded studies produce results favorable to the sponsor’s interests.  But what have we here?

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 Responses.  Kathy Musa-Veloso, Daniel Noori, Carolina Venditti, Theresa Poon, Jodee Johnson, Laura S Harkness, Marianne O’Shea, YiFang Chu.  The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 341–351.

Results: the consumption of thick—but not thin—oat flakes was associated with significant reductions in postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses.

Conclusion: “Relative to a refined grain control food with the same amount of available carbohydrate, the postprandial glycemic and insulin responses elicited by intact oat kernels and thick oats were significantly reduced. The postprandial glycemic and insulin responses with thin/instant/quick oats were not significantly different from those elicited by the refined grain control.”

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

Author disclosures: “KM-V, DN, CV, and TP are employees of Intertek Health Sciences 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:  This is a PepsiCo study paid for by the company and conducted by employees or contractors.  PepsiCo owns Quaker Oats instant oatmeal.  In the late 1980s, oat bran was a craze.  Everyone I knew was sprinkling oat bran on everything they ate as a means to reduce their blood cholesterol levels.  Even then, there were real questions about whether oats had any special effects on blood cholesterol levels.   But the idea has persisted.  This study demonstrates that oats might have metabolic benefits, but only if they are thick, whole-grain, and minimally processed.  Instant oatmeal is not in that category.  I wonder what the company’s reaction is to this study, whether it intends to fund more like it, and whether it will us thicker oats in its Quaker products.

 

Feb 18 2021

Keeping up with plant-based meat alternatives

I’ve been trying to keep up with the news on plant-based meat alternatives.   This isn’t easy.  There’s a lot going on.

Plant-based meat politics

Plant-based science news

Plant-based business news

Comment

This is a big industry with many questions about quality, degree of processing, and effects on the environment still to be settled.  And these are just the plant-based products.  Next week, I’ll post a collection of articles on the cell-based meat alternatives.  These are not yet on the market (except in Singapore) but also look like big business.  Stay tuned.

Dec 21 2020

Food marketing ploy of the week: PepsiCo

My colleague, former doctoral student, and frequent correspondent, Dr. Lisa Young, sent me this choice item:

Now why would PepsiCo be interested in putting money into a conference on fermented foods?

Lisa has the answer to that one too: the company just bought a company that makes fermented beverages.

PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE: PEP) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire KeVita, a leading North American creator of fermented probiotic and kombucha beverages. The transaction will expand PepsiCo’s health and wellness offerings in the premium chilled beverage space.

I’ll bet speakers at that conference talked a lot about the purported health benefits of drinks like these.  And I’ll also be willing to bet that they did not talk about studies that show no benefit.

Just a wild guess.

Dec 17 2020

Soft drink marketing in the Coronavirus era

A few more items about what soft drink companies are up to these days.

1.  Pepsi is releasing spa kits to ease your home-bound stress (this one was sent to me by Nancy Fink, who is keeping track of this sort of thing for the Center for Science in the Public Interest).

The kits include an exfoliating cola-scented Pepsi sugar scrub, a Pepsi Blue face mask and a Pepsi cola-scented bath bomb, according to the company’s email. With its latest branded merchandise, Pepsi can tap into trends around self-care that have emerged during a chaotic year.

What do you have to do to get one?  You have to help market Pepsi, of course

The company launched a sweepstakes on Wednesday to let consumers enter for a chance to win a limited edition Pepsi Spa Kit. To participate, consumers must tweet #PepsiSpa and #Sweepstakes and tag one of their friends, the company said.

2.  Coca-Cola sought to shift blame for obesity by funding public health conferences, study reports

The Coca-Cola Company worked with its sponsored researchers on topics to present at major international public health conferences in order to shift blame for rising obesity and diet related diseases away from its products onto physical activity and individual choice, according to a new report.

Academics in Australia and the US worked with US Right to Know, which lobbies for transparency in the food industry, to obtain and analyse emails between Coke and public health figures about events run by the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH).

They analysed 36 931 pages of documents to identify exchanges referencing Coke’s sponsorship of the International Congresses on Physical Activity and Public Health (ICPAPH) held in Sydney in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2014 [The study is here].

3.  Coke and Pepsi join Nestlé (no relation) as “Plastic Polluters of the Year

This is the third year in a row they have won this title from Break Free From Plastic. which demands corporate accountability for plastic pollution.  It’s always good to keep this in mind, along with soda companies opposition to bottle recycling laws.

Aug 24 2020

Coronavirus marketing exploitation of the week: Lays travel chips

 

According to ABC News:

With so many people feeling cooped up due to restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, potato chip maker Lay’s has developed four new internationally-inspired flavors to satisfy both food and travel cravings alike.

But here’s the real gimmick:

The new flavors won’t be sold in stores.  Anyone wishing to taste one of the new flavors will have to reply to one of the company’s social media posts and tell them which country you’d like to visit.  A bag from the country they choose will be shipped to the lucky winners.

Lays tried this in 2016.  But you could buy those in stores, although not for long evidently.  The Greek Tzatziki flavor is the only one of that lot to make it into this one.

Frito-Lay, of course, is owned by PepsiCo.  So this is Big Food in marketing action.

Jun 26 2020

Weekend reading: marketing of sugary drinks to minorities

The COVID-19 pandemic has pointed out how the higher risk of complications and death among members of minority groups.  The reasons are fairly well established.  Members of minority groups are more likely to:

  • Be overweight
  • Have diet-related risk factors: hypertension, type-2 diabetes, multiple metabolic problens
  • Live in high-pollution areas
  • Have asthma
  • Suffer from the daily stress of discrimination
  • Lack sick leave benefits
  • Have poor health care

The .latest report from Rudd Center on Food and Obesity Policy, Sugary Drinks FACTS 2020, highlights how sellers of sugary drinks target their products to minority populations.  The press release says that the report found:

  • In 2018, companies spent $84 million to advertise regular soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks on Spanish-language TV, an increase of 8% versus 2013 and 80% versus 2010.
  • Sports drink brands disproportionately advertised on Spanish-language TV, dedicating 21% of their TV advertising budgets to Spanish-language TV, compared to 10% on average for all sugary drinks.
  • Compared to White children and teens, Black children saw 2.1 times as many sugary drink ads and Black teens saw 2.3 times as many. Black youth exposure was particularly high for sports drinks, regular soda, and energy drinks.

Click here for the full report. 

The report’s main finding:

CNN has an excellent account of this, in which I am quoted.

Experts say soda companies have also taken a page out of the tobacco industry’s marketing playbook, by providing funding for many Black communities and endeavors “in ways that don’t look like advertising, like funding playgrounds in minority neighborhoods, minority community groups, and sponsorship of Black and Hispanic sports figures,” said Marion Nestle, who also authored “Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.”  “These work,” Nestle said. “Minority kids identify soda brands with sports figures, and minority community groups find it hard to oppose soda company marketing when the companies have been so generous.”
The account refers to the CEO of Pepsi’s statement on the company’s efforts to address race.  I am quoted again:
“The great irony of Ramon Laguarta’s promises to counter PepsiCo’s conscious or unconscious racist practices in the company, its business, and communities is that none of them addresses targeted marketing,” said Nestle.
“The best thing Pepsi could do to improve the health of its customers would be to stop advertising and marketing to children and teenagers, especially those of color,” Nestle added.
Addition, June 29
US Right to Know also has an excellent article on this topic.