It has been discovered that 5 decades (50 years) ago the sugar industry funded a research which downplayed the risks of sugar and transferred the blame on fat as the sole cause of heart disease.
According to the report, an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to “refute” concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart disease. The SRF then sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that.
The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, without disclosing the fact that sugar industry actually funded the research – and undoubtedly, a way to divert health concerns and promote business.
One of the researchers, Stanton Glantz, at University of California, San Francisco who discovered the internal sugar industry documents, told The New York Times that the industry were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades. He said:
“It was a very smart thing the sugar industry did, because review papers, especially if you get them published in a very prominent journal, tend to shape the overall scientific discussion.”
Evidence from the document showed that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease.
This had influenced the way people consume fats for decades because health officials would encouraged individuals to reduce their fat intake, leading many to consume low-fat, high-sugar foods – which some experts now blame for fueling the obesity crisis.
In the article published on Monday, September 12, the researchers; Glantz, Cristin Kearns and Laura Schmidt noted they had to work under some limitations.
“We could not interview key actors involved in this historical episode because they have died.”
The evidence also pointed the motivation which centered on a great business opportunity for the sugar industry, so if people could be persuaded to eat a lower-fat diet — for the sake of their health — they would need to replace that fat with something else, hence, sugar consumption could escalate by a third.
How the Sugar Industry shifted blame to fat
The New Times buzzed about the plan between the Harvard researchers and John Hickson (a top sugar industry executive) precisely in 1964, to shift public opinion against sugar. Mr. Hickson allegedly paid them a total of $6,500, the equivalent of $49,000 today, to select the papers for them to review and made it clear he wanted the result to favor sugar.
One of the paid Harvard’s research Dr. Hegsted reassured the sugar executives, “We are well aware of your particular interest,” he wrote, “and will cover this as well as we can.”
This diverted the debate about sugar and heart disease while foods high in fat became the sole health concern for health authorities.