As early as the 1960s, the sugar industry knew- because of research that had been done- that there was a possibility sugar played a role in heart disease. And they never said a word, in fact, they blamed fat.
From the article:
“In 1964, the group now known as the Sugar Association internally discussed a campaign to address “negative attitudes toward sugar” after studies began emerging linking sugar with heart disease, according to documents dug up from public archives. The following year the group approved “Project 226,” which entailed paying Harvard researchers today’s equivalent of $48,900 US for an article reviewing the scientific literature, supplying materials they wanted reviewed, and receiving drafts of the article.”
The resulting article? Well in 1967 Harvard researchers concluded there was, “no doubt” reducing cholesterol and saturated fat was the only dietary intervention needed to prevent heart disease.” All the researchers had to do was over the consistency of the literature on fat and cholesterol and downplay studies on sugar. See? You CAN buy truth.
Oh, and no one knew who had funded the research either because the New England Journal of Medicine didn’t begin requesting author disclosures until 1984. Perfect.
And who do we have to thank for this new (old) information? Former dentist Cristin Kearns. She has long been tired of the sugar industry’s decades-long effort to counter the science that links sugar with negative health effects, like diabetes.
More from the article:
“In a statement, the Sugar Association said it “should have exercised greater transparency (ya think?) in all of its research activities,” but that funding disclosures were not the norm when the review was published. The group also questioned Kearns’ “continued attempts to reframe historical occurrences” to play into the current public sentiment against sugar.”
The Sugar Association even went on to say it was a, “disservice that industry-funded research, in general, is considered tainted.” Well of course it is. BECAUSE OF THINGS LIKE THIS! So, while companies like Coca-Cola Co. and Kellogg Co., and many others, regularly fund studies that become a part of scientific literature, critics argue that these studies are often just, “thinly veiled marketing that undermine efforts to improve public health.” We would agree.
The authors of the analysis were clear that there was no direct evidence the sugar industry changed the manuscript, so there’s at least that. Nevertheless, this really illustrates why policy makers should consider giving less weight to industry-funded studies. I’m not sure why that’s not just common sense, but then, that might be expecting too much.