by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Unsavory Truth

Feb 28 2022

Industry-funded study of the week: Krill oil

I learned about this one from an article—no, it’s an ad really—in NutraIngredients.com.

Its headline: “Large new study validates krill oil’s heart health benefits.”

Heading the page is this note:

CONTENT PROVIDED BY AKER BIOMARINE SUPERBAKrill Learn More

I clicked on Learn More and got a disclaimer, the first time I have seen something like this:

The following content is provided by an advertiser or created on behalf of an advertiser. It is not written by the NutraIngredients.com editorial team, nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions of NutraIngredients.com.

OK.  Now we know that the entire article is an ad paid for by the maker of the product under discussion.

What about the research?

The study: Effectiveness of a Novel ω-3 Krill Oil Agent in Patients With Severe HypertriglyceridemiaA Randomized Clinical Trial.  Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH1Kevin C. Maki, PhD2,3Harold E. Bays, MD4et alFernando Aguilera, MD5Glenn Gould, MD6Robert A. Hegele, MD7Patrick M. Moriarty, MD8Jennifer G. Robinson, MD, MPH9Peilin Shi, PhD1Josefina F. Tur, MD10Jean-François Lapointe, PhD11Sarya Aziz, PhD11Pierre Lemieux, PhD11for the TRILOGY (Study of CaPre in Lowering Very High Triglycerides) investigators.  JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(1):e2141898. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.41898

Method: The investigators pooled data from two previous trials of people given Krill oil or a cornstarch placebo for 26 weeks.

Results: “This study found that ω-3 –PL/FFA, a novel krill oil–derived ω-3 formulation, reduced TG levels and was safe and well tolerated in patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia.”

Funding/Support:The study was sponsored by Acasti Pharma Inc. [Acasti partners with Aker to make Krill oil]

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The sponsor collaborated with the academic principal investigator (Dr Mozaffarian) in the design and conduct of the study, interpretation of the data, and review and suggestions for editing of the manuscript. The sponsor collaborated with the academic principal investigator and an independent contract research organization (IQVIA) in study implementation, data collection, and management. The sponsor had no role in the analysis of the data or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Mozaffarian reported serving as a consultant for Acasti Pharma Inc as principal investigator of this trial; receiving research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation; personal fees from Barilla, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Danone SA, and Motif FoodWorks; chapter royalties from UpToDate; serving on the scientific advisory board of Beren Therapeutics PBC, Brightseed, Calibrate, DayTwo (ended June 2020), Elysium Health, Filtricine Inc, Foodome Inc, HumanCo, January, Perfect Day Inc, Season, and Tiny Organics; and holding stock ownership in Calibrate and HumanCo outside the submitted work. Dr Maki reported receiving research grants from and consulting for Acasti Pharma Inc and Matinas BioPharma Holdings Inc, and receiving research funding from Indiana University Foundation, Pharmavite, Novo Nordisk A/S, General Mills Inc, The Kellogg Company, and PepsiCo Inc, and consulting for 89bio Inc, and NewAmsterdam Pharma outside the submitted work. Dr Bays reported receiving research grants from Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Aguilera reported receiving research grants from Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Gould reported receiving research grants from Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Hegele reported receiving research grants from Acasti Pharma Inc and personal fees from Akcea-Ionis, Amgen Inc, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, HLS Therapeutics Inc, Novartis International AG, and Pfizer Inc outside the submitted work. Dr Moriarty reported receiving research grants from Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Robinson reported receiving research grants to the institution from Acasti Pharma Inc, Amarin Corporation, Amgen Inc, Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly & Co, Esperion Therapeutics Inc, The Medicines Company, Merck & Co Inc, Novartis International AG, Novo Nordisk A/S, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, and consulting fees from COR2ED, Getz Pharma Limited, The Medicines Company, and Novartis International AG. Dr Shi reported consulting for Acasti Pharma Inc for performing statistical analyses on this trial. Dr Tur reported receiving research grants from Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Lapointe reported owning stock or stock options in Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Aziz reported owning stock or stock options in Acasti Pharma Inc. Dr Lemieux reported serving chief operating officer/chief strategy officer of Acasti Pharma Inc during the conduct of the study and outside the submitted work and holding a patent for CaPre. No other disclosures were reported. [My emphasis]

Comment: You can’t make this stuff up.

Reference: For research on why and how industry sponsorship can influence study outcome, see Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.

Feb 10 2020

Industry-funded campaign of the week: Walnuts

A headline in FoodNavigator.com got my attention: “Heart-healthy walnuts could be the next big meat alternative as campaigns build on plant-based trend.

Hoping to exponentially increase consumers’ already growing interest in walnuts, the California Walnut Board today is launching a two-prong marketing effort that will promote the nut’s health benefits and versatility.

The prongs are in-store promotions and a global marketing campaign—in nine countries no less—emphasizing how you only need to eat three handfuls a week to get their health benefits.

The article notes that the health benefits are based on published research.  Alas, it fails to mention that the cited study was ” funded by The California Walnut Commission.”

The study:  Walnuts and Vegetable Oils Containing Oleic Acid Differentially Affect the Gut Microbiota and Associations with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Follow-up of a Randomized, Controlled, Feeding Trial in Adults at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease.  Alyssa M Tindall, Christopher J McLimans, Kristina S Petersen, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Regina Lamendella.  The Journal of Nutrition, nxz289, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz289.  

Its conclusion: “…gut microbiota may contribute to the health benefits of walnut consumption in adults at cardiovascular risk.”

The California Walnut Commission has been diligent in funding studies reporting benefits from walnut consumption.  Here’s another one:

The study: Effect of a 2-year diet intervention with walnuts on cognitive decline.  The Walnuts And Healthy Aging (WAHA) study: a randomized controlled trial.  Aleix Sala-Vila, Cinta Valls-Pedret, Sujatha Rajaram, Nina Coll-Padrós, Montserrat Cofán, Mercè Serra-Mir, Ana M Pérez-Heras, Irene Roth, Tania M Freitas-Simoes, Mónica Doménech, Carlos Calvo,1,2 Anna López-Illamola, Edward Bitok, Natalie K Buxton, Lynnley Huey, Adam Arechiga, Keiji Oda, Grace J Lee, Dolores Corella, Lídia Vaqué-Alcázar, Roser Sala-Llonch, David Bartrés-Faz, Joan Sabaté, and Emilio Ros.  Am J Clin Nutr 2020;00:1–11.

Conclusions:Walnut supplementation for 2 y had no effect on cognition in healthy elders. However, brain fMRI and post hoc analyses by site suggest that walnuts might delay cognitive decline in subgroups at higher risk.”

Conflicts of interest: AS-V, SR, JS, and ER have received research funding through their institutions from the California Walnut Commission, Folsom, CA, USA. JS and ER were nonpaid members of the California Walnut Commission Scientific Advisory Council. ER was a paid member of the California Walnut Commission Health Research Advisory Group. JS has received honoraria from the CaliforniaWalnut Commission for presentations. AS-V has received support from the CaliforniaWalnut Commission to attend professional meetings. All other authors report no conflicts of interest.

Comment: Some of the authors of this study work at Loma Linda, a university run by vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists.  As is unusual for industry-sponsored studies, this one found no delay in cognitive decline among older people eating walnuts.  But the study’s conclusions spin the results to suggest that walnuts might, in fact, delay cognitive decline in higher risk subgroups—an interpretation bias.

Walnuts are good foods and eating them instead of candy or other high calorie junk-food snacks makes sense.  Are walnuts better for you than any other nut?  This study does not address that question.  Studies funded by walnut trade associations have one and only one purpose: marketing walnuts.

As a reminder, I discussed issues related to sponsored research—including why the conduct of the science is not the problem with these studies—in my book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.

Nov 5 2018

Why I so enjoy industry-funded studies: this time, chewing gum

My latest book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eatis about food industry funding of nutrition research and why it’s not good for science, public health, or trust.

The book is full of examples, easily recognized by their titles.

I can’t resist showing you the latest example:

The title: Vitamin-supplemented chewing gum can increase salivary and plasma levels of a panel of vitamins in healthy human participants.  Journal of Functional Foods Volume 50, November 2018, Pages 37-44.

The conclusion: “our study demonstrates the potential usefulness of chewing gum as a delivery vehicle for both water- and fat-soluble vitamins.”

Guess who funded this study?  “This work was supported by Vitaball, Inc. (FT. Thomas, KY, USA) and the United States Department of Agriculture.”

Vitaball, you can probably guess, makes vitamin-fortified chewing gum, and one of the study’s authors works for the company.

Want vitamins?  Try food.

Oct 30 2018

Published today! Unsavory Truth!

Now published: my new book about how food company sponsorship of nutrition research affects public health.  For information about the book—blurbs, reviews, tweets, how to get—click here.

For my public speaking engagements about the book, click here.

If you are in New York, join the launch party at NYU today, 5:00 p.m., Bobst Library 3rd floor.  RSVP here.

And here are some early reviews:

Oct 29  Jane Brody.  Confused by nutrition research?  New York Times.

Oct 28  Hailey Eber. How the food industry fooled us into eating junk.  New York Post, 42-43.

Oct 23  Nestle M.  Superfoods are a marketing ploy (excerpt).  The Atlantic .

Oct 22  Àlex Pérez.  Una verdad desagradable no vende.  ElPiscolabis (Spain).

Oct 18 Nature Magazine (2018;562:334-335): Felicity Lawrence reviews Deborah Blum’s The Poison Squad and Unsavory Truth as “Poisoned Platefuls.”

Oct 2  Science Magazine.  Cyan James, “A nutrition expert aims a critical eye at the research and marketing practices of food companies.”

Oct 29 2018

Tomorrow: Unsavory Truth is out

Tomorrow is the official publication date for Unsavory Truth.  Here’s the launch invitation.

For information about the book, click here.

For my other public speaking engagements about the book, click here.

Enjoy!

Oct 22 2018

Unsavory Truth: A peek at chapter 4

I just got an advance copy of my new book about food company sponsorship of nutrition research and its effects on public health—to be published next week on October 30.

To get a taste (sorry) of the book, here are the first two pages of chapter 4.  If you would like to read the Sugar Association’s letter to me and my reply, I’ve included links to them after this excerpt.

Want to read the rest of the letter and my reply?

Oct 15 2018

Unsavory Truth: A peek at page 2

Coming October 30: My new book about food company sponsorship of nutrition research and its effects on public health.

Here’s what page 2 has to say:

Oct 8 2018

Unsavory Truth: the Table of Contents

Coming October 30: My new book about food company sponsorship of nutrition research and its effects on public health.

And here’s what’s in it: