Sugar industry made fat the scapegoat for heart disease decades ago


By pH health care professionals

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded Harvard research that downplayed the risks of sugar and emphasized the dangers of fat, according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco, published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Around this time, studies were coming out, linking sugar with risk factors for heart disease, like high cholesterol and triglycerides, the researchers said. So, instead of letting sugar take the heat, they made dietary fat the patsy. The industry was aware that if people cut fat out of their diets, their sugar intake would go up by around 30 percent.

So, the Sugar Research Foundation (today called the Sugar Association) commissioned a research review by Harvard scientists, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967. The review minimized the significance of research that indicated sugar may play a role in heart disease.

"There are all kinds of ways that you can subtly manipulate the outcome of a study, which the industry is very well practiced at," said the study author, Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at UCSF, in Health Day.

Now, UCSF researchers say consumers have been misled for decades, thinking it’s only fat that harms the heart.

The Sugar Association said it still supports industry-funded research, Health Day reported, but admitted it should have "exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities." However, the association still holds that research shows sugar "does not have a unique role in heart disease."

The UCSF researchers disagree, noting health policy has since begun to address sugar's role in heart disease, Health Day reported.

As obesity and diabetes continue to be common health problems for many Americans, reducing your sugar intake is one way you can be proactive to protect your health. If you suspect you may have overdone it on the sugar, you can talk to one of your doctors about how to get you back on track.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

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