The effects of sugar on our health has been a hot topic in the last few years. So when we heard that the sugar industry may have been punking us for the last 50 years through manipulating science and research, needless to say we were totally tuned in. Here’s the scoop.
A researcher at the University of California, San Francisco recently discovered documents from inside the sugar industry that suggest five decades of research on the relationship between nutrition and heart disease (the leading cause of death globally) may have been largely influenced and manipulated by the sugar industry.
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Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the documents show that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to draw attention to the role that saturated fat plays in causing heart disease versus that of sugar (the link between the two was a relatively new idea in the 1950s).
The Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) prompted research on coronary heart disease (CHD) in 1965 to protect market share and its first literary review—conveniently published in 1967 when medical journals weren’t required to reveal the sources that funded the studies they featured—basically covered up the risk of CHD as it relates to sugar (sucrose) intake. Instead, it pinned the blame on fat and cholesterol levels. This manipulation trickled through the system over the years and eventually also influenced U.S. dietary guidelines.
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The JAMA analysis reads: “Together with other recent analyses of sugar industry documents, our findings suggest the industry sponsored a research program in the 1960s and 1970s that successfully cast doubt about the hazards of sucrose while promoting fat as the dietary culprit in CHD.” It’s clear that sugar industry execs purposely chose to shift public opinion with no regard for the consequences.
And you may be thinking, it’s five decades ago, so it’s in the past and let’s move on. But unfortunately, this is still a relevant issue today. Just last year, an article in the New York Times revealed that Coca-Cola may have also paid off researchers who were studying the link between sugary drinks and obesity. Where does it end?
We’re currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic and it’s deceitful acts like this that hold us back. Thankfully this dirty laundry has now been aired so the pieces can get picked up by the powers that be and they can make sure it never happens again.
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