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Through sponsored research, the sugar industry concealed the link between sugar intake and heart disease


15.2-ounce bottle of Naked Berry Blast has 29 grams 
of sugar. 8 Chips! Ahoy cookies contain 3.6 grams of sugar.
Source: CNN.com
Journal JAMA Internal Medicine discovered the sugar industry sponsored research casting doubts about sugar’s health risks. The historical analysis published Monday, claims the sugar industry, specifically a group (previously named) the Sugar Research Foundation funded early research on fat being the primary risk factor for coronary heart disease. A clever strategy to overshadow other research that blames sugar as a main culprit.

Researchers believe if early heart disease research had not been cast aside, American’s health could be different today. "If we had not dismissed the idea that carbohydrates played a significant role in heart disease, we would be potentially in a different place today in terms of our obesity and heart disease rates." said Laura Schmidt, professor of health policy at University of California San Francisco and co-author of the case study.

Researchers finds evidence of executives of Sugar Research Foundation supporting biased research

The Sugar Research Foundation, founded in 1943 by members of the American sugar industry, was dedicated to the scientific study of sugar’s role in food and communicating that role to the public. Christin Kearns, postdoctoral researcher at the UCSF School Dentistry collected letters dating from 1959 to 1971 between executives at the Sugar Research Foundation and various scientists. In 1965, the Sugar Research Foundation published its first coronary heart disease project which singled out fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of heart disease, downplaying evidence sugar consumption was also a factor.

Kearns, Schmidt, and another colleague analyzed letters, internal documents, and statements discovering that executives in the sugar industry funded research in the 60s and 70s promoting the risks of fat, staying on top of new research being developed. In one instance, VP of SRF received drafts of research conducted by David Hegsted, nutritionist at Harvard University, and replied in an email “Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print.”

Now named the Sugar Association, a representative’s email states they acknowledge the SRF “should have exercised greater transparency however...funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today...Most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research -- we're disappointed to see a journal of JAMA's stature being drawn into this trend.”


New study suggests sugars might be more of a risk factor than fats

In a 2015 paper published in the journal of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, a diet high in added sugars can cause a 3-fold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. The researchers propose dietary guidelines shift focus away from reducing saturated fat or replacing fat with carbohydrates, instead reducing intake of concentrated sugars, specifically sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup in the form of highly processed foods and beverages.

In fact, a 2005 Swedish population study found no correlation between any type of fat intake and coronary heart disease. However, this study tested the dietary guidelines of this time period - limit fat intake to less than 30% of total daily energy. The researchers concluded, with exception of cancer mortality for women, individuals that did not limit their fat intake, did not have increased mortality. 

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