A disturbing report published by JAMA details the lengths the sugar industry has gone to since the 1950’s to cast fat as the cause for coronary heart disease, while downplaying the risk from sugar consumption, and casts light on the perils of industry sponsored research.
According to an article published online on September 12, 2016 by JAMA Internal Medicine, the sugar industry cherry-picked data to cast fat as public enemy #1 when it comes to dietary causes of heart disease.
In the 1950’s, sugar was emerging as a risk of coronary heart disease and mortality rates were disproportionately high in American men. This led to studies of dietary factors, such as fats, calories and carbohydrates, and their role in CHD risk. Added sugars, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol were cited as playing a significant role.
Now, more than 50 years later, researchers have examined internal documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), historical reports, and relevant statements about the dietary causes of Coronary Heart Disease.
They discovered that the Sugar Research Foundation, on behalf of the sugar industry, devised a plan to influence the scientific debate about sugar, CHD and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). The SRF decided to convince everyone that, according to “leading nutritionists,” it was the fat in their diets that caused clogged arteries, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart problems.
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By aggressively promoting a lower-fat diet, the SRF expected that they could increase sugar’s share of our daily caloric intake by 20%, which would increase sugar’s market share, and claimed that an increase in sugar consumption would actually improve health.
According to the JAMA report, the sugar industry spent $600,000, which is over $5 million dollars in today’s dollars, to teach people that sugar “keeps every human being alive” and gives us the energy “to face our daily problems.”
In 1965, the New England Journal of Medicine published findings based on the Sugar Research Foundation research, which blamed coronary heart disease on fat and cholesterol and downplayed evidence that sugar consumption was a risk factor.
The sugar industry continued to sponsor research programs that cast doubt on the health risks of sugar, while paying off scientists to blame fat as the main dietary cause of heart disease.
This newly culled information adds to the already strong case that industry-funded studies should be given less weight when making new policies based on the health benefits of products. It also emphasizes the need for full financial disclosure regarding research, studies and literature published or sponsored by industry.
You can read the entire article for free at the JAMA Internal Medicine website: Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents