Never Trust a Food Company’s Research on Sugar

Wow, time flies…just realized that it well over a year since I posted anything here, I bet you thought I had left this blog for dead. I have been posting things at my main site hungrymaneats.com, but life has been just annoying and challenging enough that posting here was not happening. I actually went over five months between postings at my main site, but am getting active again.

I was puttering around online today when I saw the following story: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/food-makers-pay-study-discredit-sugar-research-n698051

Linked within that story is the following story: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/sugar-industry-manipulated-heart-studies-review-finds-n646836

Go ahead and check them out, don’t worry about making me wait, I’ll be right here when you are done…

See, that didn’t take long.

So, to summarize, the second link is all about research performed back in the 1960’s and 1970’s that downplayed the effects of sugars and other carbohydrates on heart disease and emphasized the impact that fat and cholesterol had. Research since then has shown that excess sugar is just as bad for the heart as excess fat and cholesterol. One of the unfortunate things that resulted from this was that official government dietary guidance issues shortly thereafter emphasized reducing your intake of fat and cholesterol, but didn’t have so much to say about added sugar.

The first link is from today, apparently the food industry has published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM) that says that there is no clear link between eating things that have added sugar in them (like soda) and negative impacts on one’s health. A quote from the executive director of the organization that funded the paper was quoted in an article on NPR stating: “This is not an industry attempt to undermine the science,” Eric Hentges, the executive director of ILSI, North America, told us. He says the aim of the paper is to examine the inconsistencies in sugar guidelines around the globe and to examine the science behind the specific recommendations. “The purpose of the paper was to investigate specifically the quality of methods and the quality of evidence,” Hentges told us.”

The problem with this is that the food industry/sugar lobby has gained a reputation for funding studies and supporting organizations that will support the practices of the food industry/sugar lobby, or at least try to challenge the general agreement among researchers and scientists that increased sugar consumption is unhealthy (see that second link). That first link also included some other dubious findings that the food industry/sugar lobby had funded the research for: “In 2014, the soda lobby funded a study that said diet sodas promote weight loss better than water. A 2011 study from the National Confectioners Association found that children and adolescents who eat candy tend to weigh less.”

The second problem is that this is not some esoteric concept like dark matter or quantum physics that hardly anybody has heard of, let alone grasp the concepts of. If you were to go and do a survey that asked people “Does added/excess sugar in one’s diet have a negative impact on one’s health?” I would bet that a majority of people would say yes. I don’t think the food industry/sugar lobby is aware that the general public is as educated on this matter as they are.

Does this concept of trying to introduce confusion and casting doubt upon the science sound familiar? If so, it is because this is the same sort of tactic that the people who try to deny climate change use to make it seem like something is less definitive than it actually is (usually to keep raking in money).

I also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that these sorts of studies keep appearing as localities and governments propose taxes on sugar and products with added sugar to try to get people to consume less of those products. I will have to write about my thoughts on that some other time as I actually agree with the food industry/sugar lobby and don’t think taxing those products is the right idea.

 

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