Dispatches from Vitafoods Europe

Ismail says omega-3s industry needs to take high road when it comes to bad press

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Triglyceride, Disease

An article in late March in The New York Times called the efficacy of omega-3s into question, citing a number of older equivocal studies.  Rather than get down into the trenches on this one, a leading spokesperson in the field said it’s time for the industry to rise above.

“I really think as an industry the lesson we need to learn is we need to be speaking positively and proactively about the true science and the true totality of evidence supporting our products, and we have to do it in a very simple and nuanced talking-point type of method,” ​Ismail told NutraIngredients-USA. Ismail spoke while attending the recent Vitafoods Europe trade show in Geneva, Switzerland.

The article, by NYT reporter Anahad O’Connor, cited a number of studies that had been done on  diseased populations which showed no benefit over placebo for subjects suffering from significant cardiovascular disease. The article called into question that totality of evidence that Ismail mentioned, quoting several physicians who said that the standard of care for cardiovascular patients has changed to the point that omega-3s might no longer make much sense, if they ever did, in their opinion.

Ismail said that it’s important for the industry to focus on omega-3s’ potential prophylactic benefits. Even though a supplement can’t claim in its marketing to lessen risk factors, Ismail said the evidentiary needle still points strongly in that direction, as far as triglyceride levels, risk of sudden coronary death and blood pressure are concerned. And the industry can’t let consumers forget it.

“We need to constantly get these key, simple messages out there in order for people to understand this large, complex body of science,”​ Ismail said.

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