Did someone say BROWNIE study?

Pennington hopes treat can raise fiber intake

Brownies and cookies made with a dash of bagasse anyone?

The treats, made with fine particles of the sugarcane byproduct, are the cornerstone of a new research study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

The small pilot study is trying to find out if eating food supplemented with sugarcane fiber can help people lose weight and decrease their risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Once a day, participants eat two small brownies for breakfast and two chocolate cookies before dinner. They keep a log of their appetite, and their weight, lean muscle, body fat and blood sugar are tracked.

The study grew out of Pennington’s Executive Director Dr. William Cefalu’s previous research, which found that mice who are susceptible to becoming obese gained the least amount of weight when fed food containing bagasse.

“We wanted to bring that science to humans,” said Dr. Daniel Hsia, Pennington’s principal investigator on the new study.

It’s known, he said, that a diet that includes plant fiber has benefits, including decreased risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Most fiber comes from grains, fruit, legumes and vegetables.

The American Dietetic Association recommends that people get 25-30 grams of fiber a day. Most people only get 10-15 grams, Hsia said.

“We also know, when you look at population data, that the most obese ingest the least amount of fiber,” said Hsia.

Fiber from bagasse would be a new option.

The Brownie Study is still seeking participants ages 18 to 50, with a body mass index 30 or more. For information, visit pbrc.edu/brownie, call (225) 763-3000 or email clinicaltrials@pbrc.edu. Participants may earn up to $215 for being part of the study.

The $50,000 study is funded by a Louisiana Clinical and Transitional Science Center grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Also particing in the study are Cefula and Pennington researchers Dr. Frank Greenway, chief of the outpatient clinic; and Catherine Champagne, Ph.D., professor in dietary assessment and nutrition counseling. LSU AgCenter’s Food Science Department and LSU AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute also participated in the study.

Editor’s note: This story was changed on Oct. 1, 2013, to correct that participants eat the brownies and cookies daily.