Not So Sweet

The sugar industry spent years and a lot of money trying to downplay the health risks associated with sugar. That comes from a new study just released in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

From the New York Times:

The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.

The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco,…..suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.

“They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the JAMA Internal Medicine paper.

According to Yahoo News, back in the 1960’s “the leading sugar industry trade group paid three Harvard researchers nearly $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a literature review that would link fat and cholesterol—and not sugar—to increased risk of heart disease. The Sugar Research Foundation, which is now called the Sugar Association, “set the review’s objective, contributed articles for inclusion, and received drafts,” according to the paper. When the New England Journal of Medicine published the two-part review in 1967, the foundation’s funding and involvement was not disclosed.

Time Magazine put together a short video titled, “Documents Reveal Sugar Industry Manipulated Health Studies.” Click here or on the video below to watch the story.

sugar

NBC News wrote:

They (the researchers) compare the sugar industry’s approach to tactics used by the tobacco industry to shed doubt on research showing tobacco causes cancer and heart disease.

Vox.com quoted Marion Nestle, a New York University food policy professor, as saying in anaccompanying editorial “This 50-year-old incident may seem like ancient history, but it is quite relevant, not least because it answers some questions germane to our current era. Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes, it is, and the practice continues.”

According to PBS News Hour, the sugar industry didn’t sugar coat its response to the controversy.

In a statement, the sugar trade group said industry-funded research has been unfairly criticized.

“We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities,” said the trade group, which now goes by the name the Sugar Association. Beyond that, “it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.”

“Sugar does not have a unique role in heart disease,” the group maintained. “We’re disappointed to see a journal of JAMA’s stature” using “headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research.”

We’d love to hear what you think about this story. Generating conversations and getting feedback from our partners on the health issues making news is an important part of our long-term goal to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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