Study funded by Big Pasta links eating pasta with weight loss
From Popular Science:
This is far from the first study looking at pasta’s possible health implications. In 2016, a study from Italy made news around the globe when it contradicted the accepted narrative by saying that pasta was “associated with a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity” when eaten as part of the widely-accepted-to-be-health Mediterranean diet. But, as Kathlyn Stone reported for HealthNewsReview.org, that study’s sweeping claim that “pasta consumption is actually associated with a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity” wasn’t supported by its data. That’s because the study didn’t prove that cause (eating pasta) was directly linked to effect (losing weight).
The Toronto researchers aren’t trying to make such a big claim. Based on the results of their study, Sievenpiper says, “I’d hesitate to say that pasta will give you weight loss.” The claim he will make is that pasta, in the context of the low-GI diets studied, won’t make you gain weight. We need more research on pasta before the weight loss facet of the story is understood, he says; there’s no way to know exactly what factor in the diets of those participants caused weight loss, we just know that the addition of pasta didn’t correlate with packing on pounds.
Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian (who wasn’t involved in the study), says the results may point to a way for people eating low-GI diets to subdue cravings. “The problem with prescribing low carb diets—by extension, a low glycemic diet—is that people develop a yearning for carbs,” he says, “and the question is, how do you satisfy that and still have the metabolic effect of the diet.”
We crave and enjoy carbs because they provide quick blood-sugar spikes, which would have kept our hunting and foraging ancestors going until they found further food. But in a modern American diet this craving has well-documented downsides. Eaten in moderation, pasta could potentially help healthy eaters enjoy their meals and feel full afterwards.
However, Aronne says skepticism is warranted. Barilla, the world’s largest pasta company, provided funding for that 2016 study that made the ambitious weight-loss claims. This new study didn’t receive funding or in-kind support (i.e. free noodles to be used in experiments) from Barilla or any other pasta company, but several of its authors, including Sievenpiper, have received such support before. Based on the page-long conflict of interest disclosure provided at the end of the paper, Aronne says, the seven researchers named as its authors “have dozens of companies that work with them.” It’s not uncommon in the world of food research for corporations to provide funding. “Some people say that someone like that has so many conflicts that they’re not no longer conflicted because they work with everybody,” Aronne says. But it’s still something to keep in mind.