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Fifth Quarter Fresh says its chocolate milk is a good for athletes after a workout. (Photo from Fifth Quarter Fresh)

UMD, chocolate milk company take licks for research claims

Last month, the University of Maryland and Fifth Quarter Fresh – a Maryland company that’s marketing a chocolate milk drink as a beverage for athletes recovering from workouts – announced that early research results suggested the drink helped improve cognitive and motor function in high-school athletes, even those who suffered from concussions.

But this announcement – which The Daily Record blogged about, noting that the research was preliminary and shouldn’t be considered conclusive – didn’t sit well with those who keep a close eye on health news., a watchdog site, criticized the university for not including enough facts about the study, its methods and its results – or for including the study itself, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed.

Andrew Holtz, a journalist and former CNN medical correspondent who writes for the site, tried to obtain a copy, but came up empty-handed when he contacted the university.

“What I heard astounded me,” Holtz wrote. “I couldn’t find any journal article because there wasn’t one. Not only wasn’t this study published, it might never be submitted for publication.”

Holtz was also alarmed that the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools was quoted in the release saying that based on the results of the study he would make the drink available to all his athletes.

“But how can this study be convincing enough to act on, if it is too preliminary to talk about?” Holtz wrote.

More experts expressed concerns about the Fifth Quarter Fresh announcement to the Baltimore Business Journal, which reported this week that the university had launched a review of the unpublished study.

The research was funded through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program, which pairs local companies with researchers from the state’s public universities for joint projects to help grow their business.

On Thursday, UMD distanced itself from the study. Pat O’Shea, the university’s vice president of research, told The Associated Press that people shouldn’t rely on what’s conveyed in the release since the results hadn’t had a full, scientific review.

“We value our reputation and we value the advice we give to the public, and I believe this is not characteristic of what a leading, respected university should do,” O’Shea said.