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Sugar industries distorting dietary guidelines past 50 years

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New research reveals that a dangerous cornerstone of American nutrition in the 20th century was funded by the sugar industry. The sugar industry worked with scientists in the 1950s and 1960s to
downplay sucrose’s role in causing coronary heart disease and other
nutritional risks, according to a paper by UC San Francisco researchers
published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
In other words, the move to single out fat and cholesterol as the
biggest problems in American diets was a coordinated effort by the trade
association, the Sugar Research Foundation, intended to increase the
consumption of sucrose.
The crux of the new research is a 1965 paper that played a major role in making low-fat diets the nutritional norm in the US. The Sugar Research Foundation paid the modern equivalent of US$50,000
to fund the project, which argued cholesterol – not sucrose – was the
sole relevant factor in studying and preventing coronary heart disease.
However, this funding was not disclosed when the literature review
was published in 1967, despite the fact that the sugar industry set the
review’s objective, contributed articles, and read drafts prior to
publication.

“The literature review helped shape not only public opinion on what
causes heart problems but also the scientific community’s view of how to
evaluate dietary risk factors for heart disease,” lead author Cristin
Kearns said in a statement.

UCSF researchers concluded that the sugar industry had a hand in
guiding researchers to recommend low-fat diets after analysing more than
340 documents between the sugar industry and two scientists, Roger
Adams and D. Mark Hegsted.

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Last year, it was revealed that the Sugar Research Foundation similarly downplayed the role of sugar in cavity prevention and tooth decay. As the low-fat diet trend took hold of the US, the sugar industry
thrived. Food makers began replacing fat with sugar – which is exactly
what the industry had wanted.

“This change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of
sugar more than a third with tremendous improvement in general health,”
Sugar Research Foundation president Henry Hass said in 1954, addressing
nutritional research that could encourage Americans to eat less fat.

Americans consume 30 percent more sugar daily now than three decades ago, according to the Obesity Society. American children eat three times as much added sugar as they should.
While the paper studied the sugar industry’s influence on nutritional
research in the 1950s and 60s, concern that food makers still play an
oversized role in scientific research remains today.

“We have to ask ourselves how many lives and dollars could have been
saved, and how different today’s health picture would be, if the
industry were not manipulating science in this way,” Jim Krieger,
executive director of Health Food America, said in a comment about the
paper.

“Only 50 years later are we waking up to the true harm from sugar.
Yet industry continues to use its time-honored tactics of creating doubt
about valid science they deem damaging to its bottom line and
deflecting blame from their products.”
Last year, Coca-Cola came under fire for donating $1.5 million to a nutrition nonprofit, while denying its influence in the inner workings of the organisation. Emails revealed
that Coca Cola helped pick the group’s leaders, edited its mission
statement, and suggested articles and videos for its website.
Coca-Cola has promised to increase its transparency about research partnerships going forward.
This article was originally published in Business Insider.

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