Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to beta glucans and maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations (ID 754, 755, 757, 801, 1465, 2934) and maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight (ID 820, 823) pursuant

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Article
EFSA Journal 2009; 7(9):1254 [18 pp.].
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1254
EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA)
Panel Members
Jean-Louis Bresson, Albert Flynn, Marina Heinonen, Karin Hulshof, Hannu Korhonen, Pagona Lagiou, Martinus Løvik, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Bevan Moseley, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Stephan Strobel, Inge Tetens, Henk van den Berg, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen
Contact
Type
Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On Request From
European Commission
Question Number
EFSA-Q-2008-1541
EFSA-Q-2008-1542
EFSA-Q-2008-1544
EFSA-Q-2008-1588
EFSA-Q-2008-1607
EFSA-Q-2008-1610
EFSA-Q-2008-2202
EFSA-Q-2008-3666
Adopted
2 July 2009
Published
1 October 2009
Last Updated
24 November 2009. This version replaces the previous one/s.
Affiliation
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Note
Article (255.48 KB)255.48 KB
Summary

Following a request from the European Commission, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to provide a scientific opinion on a list of health claims pursuant to Article 13 of Regulation 1924/2006. This opinion addresses the scientific substantiation of health claims in relation to beta-glucans and the following claimed effects: maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations and maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight. The scientific substantiation is based on the information provided by the Member States in the consolidated list of Article 13 health claims and references that EFSA has received from Member States or directly from stakeholders.

The food constituent that is the subject of the health claims are beta-glucans, which are soluble cereal fibres. Beta-glucans are non-starch polysaccharides composed of glucose molecules in long linear glucose polymers with mixed β-(1→4) and β-(1→3) links with an approximate distribution of 70% to 30%. This opinion applies to beta-glucans naturally present in foods and those forms added to foods. The Panel considers that beta-glucans are sufficiently characterised.

Maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations

The claimed effect is “blood lipids”. In the context of the proposed wordings, the Panel notes that the claimed effect relates to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations is beneficial to human health.

In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that, although some human intervention studies using high doses of beta-glucans (about 10g/d) in food matrices like juices or baked products have not observed a statistically significant reduction in LDL-cholesterol, most of the randomised controlled trials investigating the effects of non-processed or minimally processed oat or barley beta-glucans at doses of at least 3g/d have shown a statistically significant decrease in LDL-cholesterol in both normocholesterolaemic and hypercholesterolaemic subjects.
The Panel also considers that beta-glucans from oat bran and barley bran have similar effects on serum LDL-cholesterol.

On the basis of the data available, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of beta-glucans and the reduction of blood cholesterol concentrations. The following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “Regular consumption of beta-glucans contributes to maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations”. In order to bear the claim, foods should provide at least 3 g/d of beta-glucans from oats, oat bran, barley, barley bran, or from mixtures of non-processed or minimally processed beta-glucans in one or more servings. The target population is adults with normal or mildly elevated blood cholesterol concentrations.

Maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight

The claimed effect is “weight control”. The Panel considers that maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight is beneficial to human health. None of the references presented addressed the effects of beta-glucan consumption on body weight.

On the basis of the data available the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of beta-glucans and the maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight.

Keywords
Beta-glucans, blood cholesterol, body weight, health claims.
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Number of Pages
18