Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Businesses Science

Pasta Is Good For You, Say Scientists Funded By Big Pasta ( 220

Earlier this month, numerous news outlets reported on a study which concludes that eating pasta is good for health. In fact, the reports claimed, eating pasta could help you lose weight. Except, there is more to the story. BuzzFeed News reports: What those and many other stories failed to note, however, was that three of the scientists behind the study in question had financial conflicts as tangled as a bowl of spaghetti, including ties to the world's largest pasta company, the Barilla Group. Over the last decade or so, with the rise of the Atkins, South Beach, paleo, and ketogenic diets, Big Pasta has battled a societal shift against carbohydrates -- and funded and promoted research suggesting that noodles are good for you.

At least 10 peer-reviewed studies about pasta published since 2008 were either funded directly by Barilla or, like the one published this month, were carried out by scientists who have had financial ties to the company, which reported sales of 3.4 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in 2016. For two years, Barilla has publicized some of these studies, plus others favorable to its product, on its website with taglines like "Eat Smart Be Smart...With Pasta" and "More Evidence Pasta Is Good For You." And the company hired the large public relations firm Edelman to push the latest study's findings to journalists.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pasta Is Good For You, Say Scientists Funded By Big Pasta

Comments Filter:
  • by davecotter ( 1297617 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:48PM (#56465875)
    In the heading, you should enquote "Scientists" to indicate the irony. A Scientist is not a Shill. A Shill is not a Scientist.
    • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:52PM (#56466433) Homepage
      No, that's disingenuous. All Scientists are susceptible to bias. Biases are hard to root out and many of them are unconscious. It's very hard for any scientist to ignore their source of funding. It's even hard for a scientist to basically put themselves out of a job. Money is a great motivating tool. The point here is scientists are all human and are all fallible and susceptible to bias. Science has never failed me but scientists have.
      • Scientists cease to be scientists when they don't use proper scientific method.
        They become guys in stupid white coats.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's really quite absurd to think that unconscious bias has anything whatsoever to do with this.

        “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” -- Upton Sinclair

    • By itself being funded by pasta or whoever does not disqualify the science or the scientist. The science may be valid. If an interested party thinks there is scientific proof if only one goes looking for it, but nobody else is interested in investigating then in principle it is ok to do the investigation. The results of the research can be validated and reviewed on their own.
      In practice the situation is slightly different and a lot of research is worthless only serves a PR operation in someway. For instance

  • ... I can get it pasta my mouf.

  • by registrations_suck ( 1075251 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:51PM (#56465903)

    The blessings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are numerous and provided with great love....and usually a nice sauce.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:51PM (#56465905)

    In an ideal world the Scientists are blacklisted, the research Groups are blacklisted, and the world moves on to "Real Science."

    Oh, that's right, we don't have much real science going on, it's almost all corporate driven marketing or self-beneficial now.

    • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday April 19, 2018 @03:56PM (#56466969) Journal

      This post brought to you by Post-Truth! Working to put uninformed gut feelings on par with history, science, and math since 2016!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Considering various groups pushing intersectionality have been pushing this hard for the last few years? Sounds about right, so far we've got "feminist math" "black science" demands to "decolonize various STEM fields" and so on. Just remember the rabbit hole isn't what you're looking into, it's already here.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        This post brought to you by Post-Truth! Working to put uninformed gut feelings on par with history, science, and math since 2016!

        Meh, the post-truth movement is as old as time itself. Heck even an octopus has figured out that if a clear view of the situation is not to your advantage blot it out with ink. For every situation there's someone willing to believe it's a false flag operation or that the real news are fake. There was no massacre, they're all hired actors. Nobody got assassinated, it's a conspiracy to accuse us. Heck, there's still people who think Holocaust didn't happen despite so many tons of evidence and testimony across

    • Oh, that's right, we don't have much real science going on

      I wish some scientist would come and do a scientific study on "Confirmation bias among Slashdot ACs". But really that's what we call settled science even without a scientific study.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:52PM (#56465911)

    ... try anti-pasta.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:59PM (#56466501)

      They no longer sell anti-pasta in my local grocery store after someone mixed up the boxes and put in the same bin as the regular pasta.
      The store went out of business shortly thereafter because it became a rapidly expanding cloud of super-heated plasma.
      People also left them a lot of bad yelp reviews.

    • Instantly reminded me of the Wog Boy: []

      • Thank you so much for the reference. I had not seen it. I use that line a lot and now I have a audio/visual aid.

        Well played. Pun intended.

        • I tried to find a longer clip where his date corrects him about what antipasto actually is right before the chef hurls abuse at him saying "when you gonna get a new joke".

          But alas Youtube failed me :(

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      ... try anti-pasta.

      anti-pasta - "anti" meaning before as in what you eat before the pasta, because if you don't actually eventually eat pasta later, there is technically no anti-pasta (just like if there was no war, there wouldn't be an antebellum).

      So if you are allergic to pasta, you just eat starters (aka antipasti meaning before-the-meal), not anti-pasta, because after eating anti-pasta, you would then be doomed to eat the pasta you were trying to avoid... ;^)

  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:57PM (#56465943) Homepage

    Just eat some pasta, or don't eat some pasta. Unless you're eating pasta three times a day, and nothing else, who the fuck cares. Have some pasta. Have some fruit. Have some vegetables. Have some meat. Don't eat garbage, and don't eat one and only one thing.

    • Pasta in moderation, except if you're insulin resistant (like half the US population), and then it's better to not eat it at all.

    • by fazig ( 2909523 )
      As long as you keep your total amount of carbs in check it should be fine. It's some old folk wisdom that you can eat anything (let's not be too pedantic here) if you eat in moderation.
      But if you eat a bowl of sugar and starch for breakfast aka cereals, a plate of starch like pasta for lunch, and then puffy slice of sugar and starch like a cake for dinner over a longer period of time, your pancreas might not be able to keep up with it for very long. Add the sedentary lifestyle that seems to become ever so
      • by suutar ( 1860506 )

        the catch, of course, is defining "moderation". For most people, lacking a real definition, it winds up working out as "what I'm used to".

  • Uhh, yeah? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:58PM (#56465961)

    The only ones who are going to spend big money on researching pasta have some kind of interest in pasta. I'm unaware of any large anti-pasta interest groups so naturally the only remaining group who would fund pasta research are pasta producers. Not like big oil is going to run around researching pasta, and the government is too busy trying to determine how many different genders can be applied to the genus Melocactus.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Exactly. People are quick to dismiss results based on the funding source, when what they really need to be asking is "was the methodology sound, and the conclusion accurate?" Sure, where you money comes from *can* bias results, but to automatically assume it *does* is as ridiculous as just accepting the research without question!
      • Also, it's naive to think the meat industry (which is a much more real and organized thing than "Big Pasta") had no finger in the whole high-meat diet fads thing.

        • Cargill produces and controls most of the worlds wheat production. Maybe bigger than most meat producers.

  • Move more, eat less. No, you are not genetically fat, you just have no willpower and are lazy.
    • Hey! I resemble that remark!

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      I am not, it is true. But I know people who are. Yes, really.

    • You know, 'eat less, move more' has been known, for decades, to be incorrect. Cut down your sugar intake as much as possible, on the other hand, and watch your weight melt off and probably your diabeetus go away.
      • You know, 'eat less, move more' has been known, for decades, to be incorrect.

        Hence all those fat bastards you see in films & photos of Belsen.

        • Ok, let me switch to pedantic mode.

          You know, 'eat less, move more' as a method of voluntary weightloss, or an expression that human beings can be treated as basic physics test questions, has been discredited for decades. Turns out that if you're overweight, and simply cut calories, your metabolism will slow down to accommodate. You should read further into the current scientific understanding of such things, I suggest Dr. Jason Fung's "The Obesity Code" as an excellent starting off point, which references

  • ... by Stephan Pasta.

  • Since these fad diets are not based on science - and the people who adopt either don't know or don't care - maybe pasta companies could emphasize...oh, never mind, reason will always be a distant second, at best.
    • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:11PM (#56466075)

      citation required.

      In the mean time, most kidney failure in the US is caused by eating too much carbs.

    • Many diets are not based on science, but ketogenic diet (and Atkins as the base before it) are actually based on real science.
      If you are interested then Carl Franklin and Richard Morris does an excellent job discussing it (and linking to actual research) in their podcast "2 Keto Dudes".

      Highly recommend it if you (or anybody else) are interested in learning about the topic.
      Btw. start at show number 1 og go from there. Most of the details are explained in great detail in the first few shows.
  • Rice is nice, but pasta's faster.

  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:09PM (#56466053) Homepage

    Ishmael: "You really should try to quit, Mr. Munson. They say it's bad for your heart, your lungs. It quickens the aging process."

    Roy: "Is that right. Who's done more research on the subject than the good people at the American Tobacco Industry? They say it's harmless. Why would they lie? If you're dead, you can't smoke."

  • "good for you" is too broad a statement and can't be scientifically validated. Pasta tends to have a lower glycemic index (GI) than most bread and potatoes and some varieties of rice as they're typically eaten, meaning that it keeps your blood-glucose levels more even and puts less load on your pancreas (which produces insulin). But then pasta tends to be calorie dense and so easy to overeat, leading to weight-gain and perhaps obesity and all its accompanying health effects. Also, what do people typically h

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:27PM (#56466175)
    On the one hand, we should be skeptical of "research" funded by folks with a stake in the outcome. On the other, who else would do it? Would a study funded by an Atkins advocacy group that didn't find benefits to a low-carb diet ever see the light of day? No, it would quietly be shredded, burned, and buried. Like our adversarial court system, you need people who think that we've gotten it wrong to pony up to get the other viewpoint looked at. The real test is, are the results reproducible?
    • Every week, there's some study going on to tell you if a food we all consume regularly is "good" or "bad" for you. In many of these cases, you can go back in time a bit and find a study on the same food that concludes the opposite. (Coffee is good for you! No, wait... coffee is bad for you because of increased risks of X and Y. No, it's good for you because those risks are small while this new benefit we think it has is a big deal!)

      I remember, growing up, how my mom (a registered nurse) would be SO concer

  • Who cares?

    If the science is accurate, who cares if "Big Pasta" funded it?

    If the science isn't accurate, then that's the problem, not who funded it.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @03:10PM (#56466593) Homepage Journal

    statement. Authors are supposed to disclose any funding or institutional relationships that might bias their findings.

    There's nothing wrong with Barilla funding nutrition studies, but there's a lot wrong with news organizations obtaining their understanding of nutrition from Barilla PR efforts promoting Barilla-funded research. PR efforts *always* misrepresent how conclusive studies are.

    In a subject as complex as nutrition on a question as vague as "healthy" you will always, always find conflicting evidence. Nearly every snake oil remedy sold by the supplement industry is represented as having scientific support... because it has. The supplement hucksters just leave out all the ambiguous and contradictory evidence.

    "Evidence-based" means supported by the totality of evidence. Industry-funded research has its place, but it's nothing anyone but a researcher in the field should be paying attention to. In fact it's a bad idea to take any media reports of scientific papers at face value, since very few media outlets have a dedicated science desk anymore, much less reporters who are keeping up with specific fields.

    The gold standard for the layman ought to be systematic reviews [] published in high impact factor [] journals. After that, technical reports by scientific commissions and panels tasked with reviewing evidence. General media reports of individual studies are worthless, and worse than worthless when they "news" source is allowing itself to be used as the mouthpiece of a PR firm.

  • "Big pasta" is a thing?

    You mean like giant shells, or extra-large rigatoni or Guinness-record mile-long lasagna?

    • Everybody must EAT and the industry dominates rural areas with their disproportionate political power to the city factories.
      They make it illegal to simply report about meat production or you are a terrorist, hell they got stuff into the Patriot Act!

      There are always some intellectual whores who will sell their minds but the real thing to watch is the INSTITUTIONS who house these corrupt scientists. A think tank pimping out scientists is something to watch but a university or government research lab is where

    • "Big pasta" is a thing?

      You mean like giant shells, or extra-large rigatoni or Guinness-record mile-long lasagna?

      Yes, pasta and especially spagetti should be as long as possible, according to Italians. You can find 2m long pasta in speciality stores.

  • ...with a nation that produces not only delicious pasta and wise scientists, but the MAFIA?

    Forget about it.

  • ..I'd get very sick, and very fat (again; not fat anymore, not by a longshot). Normal wheat makes me ill, saps my energy, and makes me fat. So does an inordinate amount of carbohydrates in my diet, especially the highly-processed type like in most pasta.
    (No, I'm not a 'keto' person, either. I just have a clue or three about what I should and should not be eating after all these years.)

    Could we please have some sort of legislation making 'biased' 'studies' like these illegal? Give them a sound beating or
  • by epine ( 68316 )

    The human brain is not a completely fool.

    We eat pasta because pasta is good for you, over almost all environments, over all of human history. It's only recently that humanity has stumbled into a 24/7 horn-of-plenty cheesecake buffet that flummoxes our dietary instincts. Note that this is only a marginal effect: pasta is good for you, until it isn't.

    Most of chubby America these days lives on the far side of the marginal fence on the consumption of all three macronutrient groups.

    In this marginal world, just a

  • Pasta please, and pass the salt!
  • by Btrot69 ( 1479283 ) on Friday April 20, 2018 @12:44AM (#56469391)

    Italians are always complaining about how Americans over-cook pasta -- and they are right !

    As a child in the US, the only complaint my family ever made about pasta was "Its not cooked enough".
    Now my parents both have type2 diabetes and I am educating them about pasta and the glycemic index.

    Al-Dente pasta digests more slowly, enters the bloodsteam more slowly, and has a lower glycemic index.

    Soft pasta has a terrible glycemic index, too many carbs enter the blood faster than your body can use them, so your body converts them to fat.

    Actually, it is a bit more complicated, but that is basically correct.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!