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The Sugar Industry’s History Makes Headlines

Sugar may have a shady history: JAMA Internal Medicine and the New York Times recently reported that in the 1960’s, the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), a trade group known today as the Sugar Association, paid Harvard scientists to publish a review downplaying evidence associating sugar with heart disease. The review, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, included studies handpicked by the SRF and asserted that the research linking sugar to an increased risk of heart disease was “weak.” It also emphasized saturated fats’ role in increasing the risk of heart disease. After the review was published, one of the researchers paid by the SRF went on to become the head of nutrition at the USDA, where he helped draft the forerunner to the government’s dietary guidelines.

While nearly 50 years have passed since this sugar payout, the dietary guidelines continue to emphasize saturated fats’ health risks over sugars’. However, the scales are beginning to tip: Certain health authorities, including the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization, have warned that high added sugar intakes could increase the risk of heart disease. In addition, the FDA recently announced that packaged foods manufacturers will be required to list the amount of added sugars on their products' Nutrition Facts labels. The label change is supported by the USDA’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and scientific research, which has found that it’s difficult to stay within calorie limits if more that 10% of total daily calories come from added sugars.

Source: New York Times

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