EFSA health claim opinions

EFSA rejects yoghurt weight loss health claims


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EFSA says studies lacked product type specificity in rejecting yoghurt wight loss claims
EFSA says studies lacked product type specificity in rejecting yoghurt wight loss claims

Related tags Human intervention studies Nutrition

168 human publications including 48 intervention studies, 20 observational studies, 12 meta-analyses, 13 reviews, and 75 other studies (bioavailability and mechanistic studies) have failed to convince the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that fat-free yoghurt and fermented milks can deliver weight loss benefits.

Two article 13.5 opinions delivered this week by EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) found, “no conclusions could be drawn”​ from the research material.

It noted 46 of 48 human intervention studies were performed on dairy products but not low-fat yoghurts, and two others that were conducted on low-fat yoghurts were discounted because they were not also low in sugar.

Spain’s national dairy group, the Federación Nacional de Industrias Lácteas (FeNIL), submitted both applications for, “fat-free yogurts and fermented milks complying with the specifications ‘fat free’, ‘low in sugars’, ‘high protein’, ‘source of calcium’ and ‘source of vitamin D’ for nutrition claims”.

One of the sought after claims was, “fat-free yogurts and fermented milks with live yogurt cultures, with added vitamin D, and with no added sugars, help to reduce body and visceral fat in the context of an energy restricted diet.”

FeNIL proposed two 125 g yoghurt servings per day would deliver these benefits but noted, “more dairy products (especially milk) and/or other foods with bioavailable calcium, should be consumed to fulfil the corresponding daily recommended amount for this important nutrient.”

This claim was backed by the 168 pieces of research. The NDA opinion is here​.


The other submitted claim under the article 13.5 proprietary and emerging science route of the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) was, “fat-free yogurts and fermented milks with live yoghurt cultures, with added vitamin D, and with no added sugars, help to maintain lean body mass (muscle and bone) in the context of an energy-restricted diet”.

Here there were 98 human publications including 32 intervention studies, eight observational studies, three meta-analyses of human intervention studies, seven reviews and 48 other studies (studies on bioavailability and mechanistic studies). There were also some animal and in vitro​ data as there was in the other application.

The same daily serving was proposed.

Again the NDA said the research was not pertinent to the claim on the same grounds as for the other submission. Much of the data was submitted in both. That opinion is here​.

For both claims the target population were overweight or obese individuals following energy-restricted diets.

Both applications were submitted in February 2014.

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EFSA rejects yoghurt wieght loss health claims

Posted by Rozalin Kostov,

With or without EFSA claims fat free plain yogurt is a health beneficial component of every low-calorie diet, but it should not be considered as a single
anti-obesity food item.That's what people
have to know and to be educated about.

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Devil in the detail - or just common sense

Posted by Nathan Gray, Science Editor at NutraIngredients,

I think you have hit the nail on the head with your 'devil in the detail' suggestion. Or rather that EFSA will only consider evidence that directly relates to the claim, and will dismiss the rest without even looking at the findings.

Reading this, and other opinions. And having spoken to members of the NDA Panel before, simply submitting lots of evidence that seems to show something will not do anything. It has to be specific to the product (or ingredient) and show a measure relating to your claim as a primary end point.

In the case above, 48 intervention studies were submitted. 46 of them were discarded straight away as they looked at the wrong thing (dairy in general, not low-fat low-sugar yoghurt) and the remaining two were then discarded because the low-fat yoghurt used was not low-sugar ...

Time and time again EFSA has dismissed claims because most of the 'evidence' submitted is not directly relevant to the claim being made.

An EFSA Panel member recently said that in theory just one well designed study and some background biological data could be enough to gain a positive opinion - IF that one study was very well designed, was well powered, and has a very positive result.

In other cases, you might need more to get the same result.

It seems pretty tough to realistically assess whether a low-fat, low-sugar yoghurt aids weight loss when none of the intervention trials directly looked at a product with those characteristics and then assessed that against weight loss.

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Just the common sense

Posted by just a scientist,

I have read the first two comments published on that article on yoghurt claim rejection.
Reading the first comment by Nathan gray, anyone with common sense would indeed understand the reason of claim rejection.
And anyone would ask why industry still persists to submit dossiers with a plethora of irrelevant publications for several years.
Maybe Industry should consider the common sense to perform research studies, not marketing dossiers ?

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