Sugar is great. Everybody loves sugar. Even the fact that it damages your brain on some level can’t keep somebody away from the delicious goodness that is chocolate, Swedish Fish, M&M’s, or a nice cold Coca Cola. But sugar has a dark side. And no, not just the part where if you have too much you end up running around the room like a five year old who just found out their birthday gift is a real live pony. Apparently, Big Sugar hid the fact that it was directly connected to heart disease and deaths when the information was first unearthed all the way back in 1967.
According to a newly published JAMA Internal Medicine paper, “the industry sponsored a research program in the 1960s and 1970s that successfully cast doubt about the hazards of sucrose while promoting fat as the dietary culprit in CHD.” Essentially, the sugar industry paid researchers to suppress evidence that sugar leads to heart disease, and instead laid the blame on saturated fats and cholesterol. It’s not like saturated fats and cholesterol are completely free and clear but in 1967 two researchers were specifically paid by the Sugar Research Foundation not to reveal the connection, thereby maintaining their customer base and profit margins.
The chicanery draws comparisons to the tobacco industry’s similarly sketchy practices in regards to admitting that smoking causes cancer and other health risks, down to the fact that the Vice President of the Foundation John Hickson reminded researchers of exactly what the outcome was supposed to be when the most incriminating report was being compiled in 1967. It’s not like the entire industry can go back and change what that 1967 report erroneously says, but the existing leadership at the Sugar Association published a statement acknowledging the unethical report. It states,
We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today. Beyond this, it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.
They have a valid point, and sugars distinct connection to heart disease is more apparent than ever after the American Heart Association said last month that children between ages 2 to 18 shouldn’t have more than six teaspoons of sugar daily (which is harder than you’d think to stick to). Now that full transparency has been achieved (or so we think) everybody can finally attack their goal of consuming less sugar per day. It’s easier when science says you really shouldn’t eat something, right?