A new study from the University of Maryland claims that chocolate milk can assist in improving cognitive function and motor skills in high school athletes, even those that are suffering from concussions. However, a potential conflict of interest has caused the study to come under criticism. Officials in the study have rebutted, claiming the findings were prematurely released and were only preliminary, although the findings have been positive thus far.
Joe Naft, the director of the University of Maryland’s industrial partnerships, claims that the preliminary results that were released should not be criticized, but instead used to cheer on further research, according to Inside Higher Ed.
“In our release we stated the results were preliminary. However, he said, by publishing the release, “we wanted to encourage further research to confirm the results.”
Criticism has emerged based on a lack of evidence that there is any real data backing up the claims. It was also determined that the information that was released was not peer reviewed. Instead, the results of the study were simply released based upon the results that were noticeable thus far, with little evidence that they are repeatable or did not include any bias.
In addition to the criticism surrounding the lack of data, a potential conflict of interest has emerged, resulting in a potential for data that has been fudged. A partner in the research is Fifth Quarter Fresh, which is known for being a chocolate milk company. Not only did Fifth Quarter Fresh provide the milk for the research, but they also contributed 10 percent of the requested funding, equating to $10,000.
Within the preliminary results report, Fifth Quarter Fresh’s name was mentioned multiple times, reading as an advertisement for their product rather than research results. The prevalence of their name lends some to believe that the positive results are merely a means of keeping Fifth Quarter Fresh happy and a continuous donor to future research.
Andrew Holtz wonders if the study is really focused on helping high school athletes or if it is just a means of marketing, according to Fox News.
“Is the purpose to find out what’s good for these athletes, or is the purpose to develop marketing materials?”
Fresh Quarter Fifth claims that their chocolate milk was essential to the study due to the increased amounts of electrolytes, calcium, protein, and carbohydrates in comparison to its competitors. It was not revealed whether other chocolate milk brands were tested as variables in the research.
Despite a lack of data in the preliminary results reveal, the researchers claim drinking chocolate milk not only helped healthy individuals perform better, but also helped to heal concussion sufferers faster than those that did not drink the chocolate milk.
“High school football players, regardless of concussions, who drank Fifth Quarter Fresh chocolate milk during the season, showed positive results overall. Athletes who drank the milk, compared to those who did not, scored higher after the season than before it started, specifically in the areas of verbal and visual memory.”
The preliminary results did put a focus on concussed individuals, sharing that they showed considerable improvement over those that did not drink the chocolate milk.
“Concussed athletes drinking the milk improved cognitive and motor scores in four measures after the season as compared to those who did not.”
The improved function is linked to an interaction between chocolate milk ingredients and branched chain amino acids that assist in jump starting metabolism and synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Although the study is not yet complete, and other chocolate milk brands have not been tested, the early results seem positive.
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