Glorious pasta-doesn't-make-you-fat study was paid for by a pasta brand
Carb lovers rejoiced when a new study out of Italy found that pasta wasn't really the fat-causing dish it's been vilified as for years.
The study, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes this week, claims pasta does not contribute to obesity and is associated with a lower body mass index.
Tacked onto the bottom of the news release promoting the findings was a more sobering note: Barilla, the Italian pasta maker with a definite interest in people eating more spaghetti, partially financed the research.
For their part, the study authors noted that Barilla had "no role in study design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data," and added several caveats to the claim that pasta doesn't make you fat. Barilla has been contacted for comment.
First, many of the participants who ate pasta were following a Mediterranean diet, which calls for reduced meat consumption, more plant-based foods and exercise. That means it could be the Mediterranean diet as a whole, not just pasta consumption, which is trimming waistlines. Researchers didn't find that pasta directly makes you skinny. Rather, it is associated with a lower body mass index. They also called for analysis of the foods typically eaten with pasta, such as tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.
Secondly, the largest amount of pasta participants in the study ate was 86 grams, or 3 ounces. That's less than a fifth of your typical 16-ounce box of Barilla's rigatoni.
Lastly, due to incorrect data provided by some participants, especially women, when either describing their body type or recalling their meals, the researchers at first linked pasta with obesity during a "crude analysis." When they corrected for underreporting, eating pasta was found not to contribute to obesity.
The authors analyzed the diets and body composition of two groups: More than 14,000 people over 35 from the Molise region of Italy and roughly 8,900 people over 18 from across the country.
The study's bottom line: You can eat pasta and maintain a healthy weight if you eat like an Italian.
"We're talking about a fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean cuisine, and there is no reason to do without it," Licia Iacoviello, head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at Neuromed Institute, which conducted the study, said in a statement translated from Italian to English.
Following "the Mediterranean diet, moderation in consumption and the variety of all its elements, pasta in the first place, is a benefit to your health."
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