According to a recently published article in JAMA Internal Medicine, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) researchers may have been mislead, starting in the 1960’s, about the impact that sugar has on our diets. In fact, it may be the the Sugar Research Foundation used their monetary influence to push the finger-pointing onto fat as being the prime dietary blame for the development of Heart Disease. This could be a huge shift in the way we look at, and how we approach, the things we eat.
For the last five decades, the Sugar Industry has been fighting to keep sugar solidly out of the firing range of researchers and scientists who have suggested that it actually has a much larger impact on our heart’s health. The report points out that in 1954, the president of the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) gave a speech that touched upon the possibility of a great money-making opportunity. If Americans could be told that a lower-fat diet was indeed healthier, fats would need to have the replacement of something else for calories-sake. That replacement could be sugar.
Almost immediately following this speech, the SRF approved a self-funded study headed by a Harvard researcher (who just so happened to be a member of the SRF’s board) to “prove” that sugar wasn’t all that bad and push the blame of Coronary Heart Disease onto fat. By the time the study was published, SRF paid almost $50,000 dollars to the researchers who conducted it. Not only that, but with the article landing in the New England Journal of Medicine of 1967 (a well-lauded publication both now and then), it became almost impossible to stop the word-of-mouth from spreading.
What may be possibly the most absurd piece of evidence for mishandling the way in which the research was reported are how experiments were simply “overlooked” by the scientists involved as being either irrelevant or “not applicable” to the way that “normal” people eat. This included research into having individuals eat more vegetables and less sugar (which was considered to be not “feasible” by the authors of the SRF report) and having rats eat low fat and high sugar diets (which was pointed out as diet not normally consumed by man).
The obvious problems with these claims are how much we in fact do consume tons of sugar on a daily basis and how much whole fruits and veggies are indeed good for our health (a great study can be found here.) Not only that, but what does it actually mean to have an industry fund research that could then affect a nation as a whole? JAMA points to this as being the biggest issue with all of what has occurred in the sugar industry and calls for a more thorough look at how food and diet research is conducted. Perhaps it is a call for us all to examine that which we think we know and find our own paths to better health.
Check out the article that inspired this one here.