Who would have ever though sugar industries pose this effect on us? No matter what we find ourselves doing, society appears surrounded by this never-ending sweetness- sugar.
Recent news are alarming. Apparently, sources tell us the sugar industry purposely manipulates science into making us consume more and more.
Is this indeed true? Let’s find out.
Are Sweets to Blame for Chronic Diseases?
But, what about the scientific proof according to which increased sugar consumption may lead to chronic diseases?
What can the industries tell us about this?
Next year marks a very important period for sugar industries. 50 years passed since they have cleared any trace of their ties to the disease.
Although known today as the Sugar Association, at first (1943) the industry was called Sugar Research Foundation (SRF). Researchers have involved themselves in order to decipher the mystery behind this case.
According to the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) scientists, a long search through documents was not in vain.
Evidence was able to prove how sugar industries have indeed tried to fake their research and make it look like their product was not the cause for heart disease.
One finding was interesting. Based on president Henry Hass’s 1954 speech addressing the Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, he noted:
“If the carbohydrate industries were to recapture this 20 percent of the calories in the US diet (the difference between the 40 percent which fat has and the 20 percent which it ought to have) and if sugar maintained its present share of the carbohydrate market, this change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of sugar more than a third with a tremendous improvement in general health.”
The industry had already come up with a plan. The aim was to make Americans reduce calories from saturated fats, and replace them with sugars instead.
Based on the UCSF, the SRF has been using tactics from “Added Sugar, Subtracted Science”, which the Union of Concerned Scientist has used before them. These tactics’ goal was that of changing the health policy on sugar, and taking advantage of it.
The Sugar Association and the corn syrup counterpart, the Corn Refiners Association, started following guidelines taken from the SRF:
The Strike Against Science
Even if at this point it may seem easier to “just bury the data” ( as the Corn Refiners Association planned), John Yudkin of the Queen Elizabeth College had more to say on the increased desire to consume sugar calories.
But, in order to avoid any theories that could come as a loss, SRF’s president and vice president came up with a special program.
Its main role was to oppose all negative claims brought against sugar. Another significant role was to allow for public opinion of the consumers.
Implementing Confusion Among the Masses
Sugar industries have made several attempts during the 1960s.
They established their own literature reviews on fats, chronic disease, and sugar. This way, industries had hoped to banish the belief according to which calories coming from their product could lead to health issues.
Under the careful observation of Harvard University’s Fredrick Stare, the SRF did pay a total of almost $50.000 to Dr. Mark Hegsted and Dr. Robert McGandy, for their efforts.
Since their heavy involvement in the entire process, the SRF drew the scientists attention to target especially the risk of fat consumption.
In 1965, SRF vice president John Hickson stated that:
“Our particular interest had to do with that part of nutrition in which there are claims that carbohydrates in the form of sucrose make an inordinate contribution to the metabolic condition, hitherto ascribed to aberrations called fat metabolism. I will be disappointed if this aspect is drowned out in a cascade of review and general interpretation.”
With this study, the SRF had obtained the desired result, mentioning that “this is quite what we had in mind.”
In order to prevent chronic heart disease, researchers found a solution. Replacing of saturated fats with unsaturated ones and of course a reduction of dietary cholesterol.
Despite the SRF’s involvement and funding of the review, the publication of the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967 did not mention them. Even more, another issue is important to note. Founder Dr. Frederick Stare of the Harvard School of Public Health had long been tied to the SRF.
Dependent on the food and sugar industries, between 1952 and 1956 the SRF founded more than 30 documents.
Overall, the Harvard department lead by Stare is just one example of how science easily becomes influenced by fundings. Sadly, not only them, but also the public can feel those consequences.
Failure to Comply
The act of manipulating science doesn’t just happens overnight. It also has the power to alter policies and laws. For example, in 1986 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published scientific evidence called “Sugar in the diet of man”.
Based on the 1976 review made by the industry, this shows how research influences policies.
According to this publication, “no conclusive evidence on sugars demonstrates a hazard to the general public when sugars are consumed at the levels that are now current”. The industry has sponsored this study. And we have proof of this. The chair of the study went, in fact, to work for the Corn Refiners Association, which helps corn syrup manufacturers.
The agency study is indeed to blame, since it was greatly influenced by the food and sugar industry. Based on the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe ) status, over the years, no one has yet recognized the health impacts of added sugars.
Chronic Diseases Caused by Sugar Industries
Nowadays, society barely started to take notice of the connection between sugar and chronic diseases. For more than 50 years, industries promoting sugar managed to conceal information about the dangers resulting from it’s excessive consumption.
Even if the sugar industry has misguided us for so long, things are slowly starting to change.
One example would be the American Heart Association and its last month publication on consumption for children. On the one hand, they recommended that children under the age of two not eat added sugars. On the other, they believed it is important for all children to not consume more than 10% calories from sweets
Is it that bad to eat healthy?
They generally employ that:
“There is minimal room for nutrient-free calories in the habitual diets of very young children.”
As a result to this, the Sugar Association was profoundly displeased with the AHA’s recommendation and their scientific statement.
Among the first change to be implemented is the FDA labels on food packages. From now on every product will contain information on the level of added sugar, and taxes will be implemented for sugary drinks.
Even schools policies are improving the quality of food for their children, thus making it more natural and nutritional.
Every day, no matter the issue we are surrounded by conflicts of interest. Many other researchers relate to such conflicts of interest when it comes to science funding.
Once again, people must take notice of the great influence and the role of sugar industries around science. Public health needs to remain safe from independent science and the adverse consequences that added sugar has on us.