In Bed With The Sugar Industry
Written by: Joachim Bartoll, September 12-13
Classic Muscle Newsletter, September 2016 (issue #24)
On September 12, an article in JAMA Internal Medicine by Marion Nestle featured newly uncovered documents, analyzing 31 pages of correspondence between a sugar trade group and researchers at Harvard University. According to these documents, in the 1960s, the sugar industry began funding research to cover up sugar’s role in heart disease, mainly by pointing the finger at fat instead. This is yet another example showing how the food and beverage industry attempt to shape public understanding of nutrition for their own financial gain.
In 1964 a group known as The Sugar Association started a campaign to address any “negative attitudes toward sugar” after studies linking sugar with heart disease began to emerge. The following year the group approved a project called “Project 226”, which involved paying researchers from Harvard the equivalent of todays $48,900 USD worth for an article reviewing “scientific literature”, where the Sugar Association supplied the materials they wanted reviewed – and with a demand to review the drafts of the article prior to publication.
The result was an article, published in 1967, which concluded there was “no doubt” that reducing cholesterol and saturated fat was the only dietary guideline necessary to effectively prevent heart disease. Previous research on the safety on fats were shunned and studies on sugar were severely downplayed.
According to the uncovered documents, an employee of The Sugar Association wrote to one of the authors with praise, "Let me assure you, this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print".
The sugar industry's funding and role were not disclosed when the article was published by the New England Journal of Medicine – as the journal did not begin requesting author disclosures until 1984. With further funding and pushing the article and their agenda, the sugar industry paved the way for the hugely successful “low-fat” and “fat-free” movement, which swept through the 80’s and most of the 90’s – forming erroneous beliefs and steering the medical community in the wrong direction for decades.
Food and beverage manufacturers started reducing or entirely removing fat from their products in order to appeal to the public, but they soon discovered that by removing the fat from foods, they also took away most of the flavor. They needed some way to compensate for this loss, and sugar was the answer — and not just a little bit of sugar, but copious amounts. While this allowed them to market their products as fat-free, it did not make their products weight-proof, since when processed by the body, sugar is easily stored as body fat.
In an editorial published on September 12 that accompanied the sugar industry analysis, New York University professor of nutrition Marion Nestle noted that for decades following the study, scientists and health officials focused on reducing saturated fat, not sugar, to prevent heart disease.
While scientists are still working to understand links between diet and heart disease, concern has shifted in recent years to sugars, and away from fat, Nestle said.
The findings in this article are part of an ongoing project by a former dentist, Cristin Kearns, to reveal the sugar industry's decades-long efforts to counter-science linking sugar with negative health effects, including diabetes.
Actually, The Journal of the American Medical Association released a paper last year highlighting a depressing statistic that over 65% of adults in the United States are diabetic or pre-diabetic 2! Even worse, is that this adjusted number is by all probability underestimated. As although the study attempted to include undiagnosed diabetic (5.2%) and pre-diabetic (38%) individuals, in addition to those already diagnosed (14.3% and 9.1%) – using Hemoglobin A1C – it’s still missing those with normal blood glucose and excess insulin, or any 1 of 5 abnormal blood sugar responses recorded by Dr. Joseph Kraft. Only Kraft Pattern 1 (or euinsulin) is actually normal, and this is something he only saw in 25% of the 14,384 people he analyzed over 20 years. Suggesting that the true diabetes epidemic would be far worse if the researchers in this JAMA study used Kraft’s test (the 5-hour glucose with hourly insulin assays).
Also, the study only gathered data up to 2012. Since then, things have probably gotten even worse.
More on Sugar Corruption
Another recent paper published in July by Rippe and Angelopoulos in the European Journal of Nutrition claimed that there is no connection between sugar and diabetes or sugar and weight gain 3. Funny enough, that paper was funded by ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, the Florida Department of Citrus, PepsiCo International, Coca Cola, the Corn Refiners Association, Weight Watchers International and various publishers.
Considering conflicting studies and this latest uncovering by Nestle, I’m sure that the lead author of this paper, Dr. James Rippe, was not influenced by the $10 million dollars he received in funding (and $41,000/month retainer) from the Corn Refiners Association for writing this study, or any of his earlier pro-sugar research…
Always keep in mind that companies including Coca-Cola Co., Kellogg Co., as well as groups within the grain and agricultural industry such as Monsanto regularly fund studies that unfortunately become a part of scientific literature, are cited by other researchers, and are touted in press releases.
This is why it’s important to take a closer look at the authors of studies and papers that are pushed by the media and backed by big press releases. Follow the money. Examine the research and form your own opinion. If you are skeptical, trust that feeling and look into things further.
1. Food Industry Funding of Nutrition Research. The Relevance of History for Current Debates.
Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH.
JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5400
2. Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012.
Andy Menke, PhD; Sarah Casagrande, PhD; Linda Geiss, MA; Catherine C. Cowie, PhD.
JAMA. 2015;314(10): 1021-1029. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10029. September 8, 2015.
Sugar Industry Sponsored Paper:
3. Sugars, obesity, and cardiovascular disease: results from recent randomized control trials.
Rippe, J.M. & Angelopoulos, T.J.
Eur J Nutr (2016). doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1257-2. 14 July 2016.