Olestra: Is it really that bad?

Olestra: Is it really that bad?
By Sarah Gaynor
What is Olestra?
Normal fats are three
fatty acids bonded to a
glycerol molecule.
Olestra uses a sucrose
(sugar) molecule joined
at esters to six to eight
fatty acids, instead. It
tastes and feels like a
fat, but our bodies
don’t even know where
to begin to digest it.
• P&G wanted a fat-reducing drug in
• Couldn’t show efficiency, so used as a
food additive
• Brand name: Olean
• Approved in 1996 – Only by the US
• Lay’s WOW in 1998
• Label removed in 2003 – WOW
discontinued, Lay’s Light begun
• Other companies dropped olestra line
of chips
Lay's Light Original
Lay's Light KC Masterpiece BBQ
Doritos Light Nacho Cheese
Ruffles Light Original
Ruffles Light Cheddar & Sour Cream
Tostitos Light Restaurant Style
Fat-Free Pringles
Fat-Free Bar-B-Q Pringles
Fat-Free Sour Cream and Onion Pringles
Concerns: Vitamins
• Warning label: “This Product
Contains Olestra. Olestra may
cause abdominal cramping and
loose stools. Olestra inhibits the
absorption of some vitamins and
other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E,
and K have been added.”
• Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fatsoluble
• Olestra carries them away
• Chips fortified with vitamins
Concerns: Carotenoids
• Organic pigments
• Found in fruits,
vegetables like carrots,
palm oil
• May lower risk of
blindness, heart disease,
• Like the vitamins, fatsoluble
Concerns: “Abdominal cramping
and loose stools”
• Biggest problem
• Eight-week studies (17 test
– 8 g (16 chips) a day increased diarrhea
by a factor of 5
– 32 g (about 3 oz of chips) gave half the
subjects diarrhea
– 8 g: gastrointestinal symptoms such as
diarrhea, loose stools, nausea, and gas
increased by 65%
– 20 g was enough to double incidents
– Intermittent symptoms lasted 40 days
• Testimonials
– http://www.zug.com/pranks/olestra/
Procter and Gamble’s stance
• Reduce consumption of fats
• Eat as much as you want
• “Olean is a replacement for fat,
not for common sense.”
• Gastrointestinal effects are
similar to that of a high-fiber diet
• “The added vitamins have no
impact on the body’s vitamin
levels regardless of how much or
how often Olean snacks are
–Olean website
• More than 20,000 complaints
• More complaints after label
removal, name change,
removal of Olean label, too
• Some consumers went to
• Frito-Lay being sued by
Massachusetts woman
• Backed by nonprofit Center
for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI)
Is P&G trustworthy?
• Actonel, a drug for
osteoperosis (Britain)
• Dr Aubrey Blumsohn at
Sheffield University
• Ghost writer, no access to
• Finally gained access—
results framed poorly and
• No action from university;
suspended for talking to
Believe what you want to
believe, but I won’t be
eating Lay’s Light
anytime soon…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olestra - olestra info
http://www.cspinet.org/olestra/OLES-M.AVI - anti-olestra commercial
http://www.cspinet.org/olestra/ - anti-olestra site
http://health.howstuffworks.com/question526.htm - how olestra works
http://health.howstuffworks.com/fat.htm - how fat works
http://www.olean.com/ - main site
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1657302,00.html – legal bit
http://www.thes.co.uk/search/story.aspx?story_id=2026307 – recent news on legal bit
http://scientific-misconduct.blogspot.com/search?q=proctor+%26+gamble – legal bit central
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d9/Olestra_stereo_animation.gif - molecule gif
http://www.zug.com/pranks/olestra/ --eeew....
http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/lax/182862349.html -- also very gross
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/NEW00524.html - being approved
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2003/ANS01245.html - changing the label
http://cspinet.org/new/200601041.html - Getting sued
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat - fat info
35&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dolestra%2Bproduct%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den – News
article on falling sales in 2000
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid - carotenoids
http://www.becomehealthynow.com/article/fats/156/ - problems with olestra