Here’s another one of those studies that produced an eye-rolling moment for me. Actually, it wasn’t the study itself. The study was fine, which is why I didn’t have a head-bang-on-desk moment. It was the conclusion – which is the only part of a study many media health reporters read — that produced the eye-rolling.
Here’s part of the abstract:
The physicochemical properties of soluble oat fiber (β-glucan) affect viscosity-dependent mechanisms that influence satiety. The objective of this study was to compare the satiety impact of oatmeal with the most widely sold ready-to-eat breakfast cereal (RTEC) when either was consumed as a breakfast meal.
Forty-eight healthy individuals ≥18 years of age were enrolled in a randomized crossover trial. Following an overnight fast, subjects consumed either oatmeal or RTEC in random order at least a week apart. The breakfasts were isocaloric and contained 363 kcal (250 kcal cereal, 113 kcal milk). Visual analogue scales measuring appetite and satiety were completed before breakfast and throughout the morning. The content and physicochemical properties of oat β-glucan were determined. Appetite and satiety responses were analyzed by area under the curve (AUC).
So they compared people eating oatmeal to people eating ready-to-eat cereal. Surprise! The people who ate oatmeal reported feeling less hungry later in the day. No kidding. Ready-to-eat-cereal takes your blood sugar on a wilder roller-coaster ride than oatmeal.
Now here’s the study’s conclusion:
Oatmeal improves appetite control and increases satiety. The effects may be attributed to the viscosity and hydration properties of its β-glucan content.
Oatmeal improves appetite control? Well, I can already picture the additional sales pitch on boxes of Quaker Oats, right there next to Can Help Reduce Cholesterol! Now they’ll be adding Improves Appetite Control!
Here’s the Science For Smart People question: Compared to what?
Compared to ready-to-eat-cereal, oatmeal produced greater satiety. But what if there had been a third group that ate eggs for breakfast?
I haven’t seen a study with a direct oatmeal-to-eggs comparison, but I did find an eggs-to-bagels comparison in my study files. Here’s part of that abstract:
To test the hypotheses that among overweight and obese participants, a breakfast consisting of eggs, in comparison to an isocaloric equal-weight bagel-based breakfast, would induce greater satiety, reduce perceived cravings, and reduce subsequent short-term energy intake.
Thirty women with BMI’s of at least 25 kg/M2 between the ages of 25 to 60 y were recruited to participate in a randomized crossover design study in an outpatient clinic setting.
Following an overnight fast, subjects consumed either an egg or bagel-based breakfast followed by lunch 3.5 h later, in random order two weeks apart. Food intake was weighed at breakfast and lunch and recorded via dietary recall up to 36 h post breakfast. Satiety was assessed using the Fullness Questionnaire and the State-Trait Food Cravings Questionnaire, state version.
The results showed that the women who had eggs for breakfast ate smaller lunches than the bagel-eaters: 574 calories for lunch vs. 738. They also reported feeling fuller, even though both breakfasts contained the same number of calories.
I’d like to see a head-to-head comparison with four heads: eggs, bagels, oatmeal and ready-to-eat cereal. I’d put my money on the eggs for the greatest satiety and appetite control.
But if someone conducted that study and the egg producers slapped a big Helps Reduce Appetite! label on their cartons, I bet somebody at the FDA would get very upset.
NOTE: The Older Brother will be taking over the blog next week. I’m giving a speech on Thursday and plan to spend the early part of the week rehearsing and putting the finishing touches on my slides.