NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Studies Find No Harm In Olestra

April 5, 1999

When Proctor & Gamble introduced its olestra product -- a fake fat that leaves snack chips cooked in it with a third to a half fewer calories than those cooked in oil -- the junk science crowd went into high gear. Organizations such as Center for Science in the Public Interest issued dire warnings that olestra-cooked chips were dangerous and could cause all manner of gastrointestinal problems.

But two new studies have debunked those charges.

In a Johns Hopkins University study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, two groups totaling more than 1,100 persons were given either chips cooked in olestra or chips cooked in oil.

  • While 15.8 percent of those who ate the olestra chips reported one or more gastrointestinal symptoms, so did 17.6 percent of those who ate the regular chips.
  • "We found no differences in effects," reported the researchers.

In a study by Hill Top Research, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 3,000 volunteers were separated into two groups and, again, given either olestra- or oil-fried chips.

  • The researchers reported that: "Clinically meaningful or bothersome gastrointestinal effects are not associated with unregulated consumption of olestra corn or potato chips in the home."
  • "The test groups," the report went on, "did not differ significantly in the proportion of participants reporting any of the eight individual gastrointestinal symptoms, except that a higher percentage of controls (eaters of the non-olestra chips) reported nausea...."

Source: Michael Fumento (Hudson Institute), "Affected With Acute Activist Agonies," Washington Times, April 3, 1999.


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