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.