Monday, April 27, 2009

Spin Doctoring: Juice

Today's going to be the launch of a new feature on Weighty Matters - Spin Doctoring. Spin Doctoring posts will detail the efforts of the media or Big Food in spinning the conclusions of a study into a dramatically overblown or misleading message.

First up? Juice.

The spin doctor? A website likely paid for by Big Juice called Fruit Juice Facts.

So what'd they do?

Apparently there was a paper or an abstract presented at the 2009 Experimental Biology conference that detailed some epidemiological data on 5 years of juice consumption as documented through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004.

The headline to detail the findings?
"Drinking 100% Fruit Juice is Associated with Lower Risk of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome"
The report goes on to explain how juice drinkers
"had lower mean Body Mass Index (BMI), smaller waist circumference and lower insulin resistance"
They then concluded,
"Based on the analysis, risk for obesity was 22% lower among 100% juice drinkers, while risk for metabolic syndrome (defined as the presence of three or more of the following: central obesity, elevated blood glucose, elevated fasting triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol, elevated blood pressure) was 15% lower compared to non-consumers."
In keeping with the juice is miraculous theme the presenting author was quoted as saying,
"One-half cup of 100% fruit juice counts as a serving of fruit and, based on our analysis, 100% juice consumption is associated with some of these same benefits"
So where's the spin?

Well read a bit more and you'll find out that maybe it wasn't actually the juice after all,
"juice consumers had higher physical activity levels and more favorable dietary intake patterns (including: lower fat intakes, higher fiber intakes, lower added sugar intakes). After taking these lifestyle factors into account, the inverse relationship between 100% fruit juice consumption and metabolic syndrome was no longer statistically significant."
But apparently juice magically lowered the risk of obesity by 14% "even after the adjustment".

Yup, sugar water plus vitamins is a sure fire way to combat obesity.

So did the spin work? I could only find two articles:

Fruit Juice Lowers Obesity, Stroke Risk - Times of India

Drink to Juice - The Brisbane Times

I'd call that a fizzle.

Better luck next time Big Juice.