Thursday, 18 April, 2024
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FDA allows ‘yoghurt can lower diabetes risk’ claim

Yoghurt makers are now permitted to claim that their products can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, says the US Food and Drug Administration, but with some caveats, including that there is limited scientific evidence supporting this.

The FDA’s new guidance allows companies to make a “qualified health claim” that regular yoghurt consumption – at least two cups or three servings per week – may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The agency has said some evidence linked yoghurt intake and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, “irrespective of fat or sugar content”, but this finding was based on observational studies measuring associations instead of a cause-and-effect relationship between a substance and disease.

The Washington Post reports that in its guidance, the FDA noted opposing views including that the decision could “encourage consumers to increase consumption of yoghurts, including those high in added sugars” – the latter having been linked to various health issues, included diabetes.

Acknowledging that concern, the FDA urged “careful consideration” of whether to use the claim “on products that could contribute significant amounts of added sugars to the diet”.

The decision follows a 2018 petition from representatives of Danone North America, which sells yoghurt, beverages and baby formula, among other food products. The petition cited 117 publications as evidence for the claim that yoghurt consumption lessens the risk of type 2 diabetes.

At least six of the studies were at least partially funded by Danone or a related company, Reuters reported.

Danone North America welcomed the FDA announcement, saying it hopes the move provides consumers with “simple, actionable information they can use to help lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes”.

‘Failed to understand’

“It looks to me as if the FDA has completely failed to understand the nature of observational studies,” said Mike Lean, a senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow’s medical school.

“The evidence saying people who do not get type (2) diabetes includes people who have yoghurt two or three times a week. That does not prove the yoghurt is doing anything. They are eating less of something else, and almost certainly less overweight. We already know that the critical thing for avoiding type 2 diabetes is to avoid weight gain,” he said.

“Yoghurt is a distraction. Just what the food industry wants,” he added.

In previous “qualified health claims, the FDA has allowed cranberry juice-makers to say there is a link between consuming certain cranberry products and a reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infection in healthy women; that magnesium could lower risk of high blood pressure; and that eating macadamia nuts may lessen coronary heart disease risk.

However, critics have said that the claims – which are based on lesser evidence than “authorised health claims”, serve as “wishy-washy health advice”.


The Washington Post article – Yoghurt can lower diabetes risk, FDA allows makers to claim, with caveats (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Higher yoghurt intake associated with lower BP in hypertensives — Longitudinal Study


High-fibre and yoghurt reduce lung cancer risk


Yoghurt intake associated with lowered risk of cardiovascular disease


Cranberries could improve memory, fight dementia – British collaborative study


The man on a quest to live forever








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