The New York Times just recently published an article that stated the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay the connection between sugar and heart disease. Instead, they blamed saturated fat, according to newly released historical documents.
The study was actually published in a prominent journal, The New England Journal of Medicine, minimizing the link between sugar and heart disease and casting blame on saturated fat. This was in 1967. I was hoping that today’s standards would be better. I would hope that integrity would not have price tag.
However, companies continue to influence nutrition science even today. The sale in 1967 paid Harvard scientists $50,000 to publish a review of sugar, fat, and heart disease. Last year, Coca Cola paid millions of dollars to scientists who would downplay the link between sugary drinks and obesity, according to the Times. The Associated Press reported that candy-makers funded studies that stated children who eat candy weigh less than people who don’t.
The reason that these companies will pay big bucks to fund favorable research is because science does have an influence. Whether it be a concerned mother or the government, the research influences important decisions, such as what to buy at the store and what goes into dietary guidelines for the country.
Even today, avoidance of saturated fat remains a fundamental pillar to the nation’s dietary guidelines. While sugar was mainly characterized as empty calories linked to tooth decay, saturated fat was made to be the culprit to heart disease. Recently, the American Heart Association, World Health Organization, and other health authorities have started to speak out against sugar, citing its connection to heart disease.
From the American Heart Association website:
Getting too much added sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in April 2014.
According to the study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine, those who got 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar.
It’s great that this research seems to have been corrected, according to the American Heart Association, but this research should have been known many years ago. The historical documents were published in JAMA that suggested five decades of dietary guidelines and even today’s guidelines were shaped by the sugar industry. As one of the study’s authors tells the Times, “By today’s standards, they behaved very badly.”
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