Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies for High Cholesterol?

I've been wondering who forms the Institute of Medicine. You know, those same guys who want Pay for Performance for doctors and want to rid the world of all those 5 gazillion annual medical errors out there, lurking around every corner: the same guys cited by credible sources in the Halls of Congress, New York Times, Washington Post, and the Associated Press.

I think I found it. I was just trying to learn about chocolate chip cookies for your high cholesterol. "Bravo!" I thought, "I can't wait until my obese, diabetic patients bring me a bag of these."

But before you go out and buy them, look a bit closer. The study referenced was in a whopping 33 patients and was reported in the Journal of Nutrition. (I could not find mention of conflicts of interest of the authors either, but I digress). Now, if one looks at the nutritional value of just 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips, one can see that those little chocolate chips represent 80 calories, 40 of which are from the 4.5 grams of fat, over half of which (2.5 grams) are saturated fats. Blood cholesterol levels, my friends, are closely related to the amount of saturated fat in one's diet.

So to find that the "study" cookies had 6 grams of fat per cookie (1.9g saturated) and the "placebo" cookie had 7.6 grams of fat (2.2g saturated) was quite a surprise. Now I don't know about you, but shouldn't the placebo cookie have had the same amount of fat? What a clever way to skew the results!

Now, if these guys were really about lowering cholesterol, they'd leave out the chocolate chips, but that might make the cookies taste like cardboard. But given the study was sponsored by RD Foods, the study cookie's manufacturer, one shouldn't be surprised. It seems, too, that one of the authors, John H. Contois, was from Liposcience, Inc. of Raleigh, NC. Interesting that Liposcience's chairman of the board, Charles A Sanders, MD is also a member of the infamous Institute of Medicine that makes all the proclamations about "errors" in medicine.

I wonder if the Institute of Medicine ever considered the errors they help promote in healthcare when their members' companies support these "studies" with pure profit motives.



Anonymous said...

That's just mind boggling! I can't believe that they aren't going to get called on that.

Sad thing is, I'm sure you'll have some patients who fall for it ...

Jenny said...

Wheee! Give me some of those! LOL ;)
Reminds me so much when I was in the hospital with my son who was recovering from liver transplant. I was feeding him things like oatmeal, yougurt and for snacks he got cheese.
One day the "expert" hospital nutritionist blew through the door and told me they were concerned about my son's nutrition--it so very important after transplant bleh bleh bleh. If he didn't get more calories in then they'd have to look into putting an NG tube down and do feedings that way. Then she suggested I feed him potato chips. "Kids after transplant seem to really love potato chips." She tells me. Also, give him gatorade to drink--"It has more nutrition". Nutrition? Sugar, you mean? ;)
The nurses were floored. I just laughed and kicked her out of the room.
I counted calories and nutrition amounts on my son with every bite he took but this "expert" comes out of nowhere and tells me how to feed my kid crap to make him all better.
Yeah, makes sense.
LOL ;)

Jacob said...

Why should the cookies have the same amount of fat? If the "study" cookies are special, in part, due to modified/reduced shortning, then that is a legitamate placebo. If it is something else, then not so much... As an aside, more of the fat in cookies is from shortning, not chocolate chips (of which there are not 1T/cookie except in monster cookies).