What the Sugar Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

For decades, the sugar industry has used its money and influence to shift the blame for food-related health problems to high fat foods. And we eat it up.

The sugar vs. fat debate goes all the way back to the 1960s, when researchers were just discovering that diet and heart disease were linked. American diets were changing, relying more and more on processed food, which was big business. The sugar industry had money to spend, and it invested a good amount of funding research results blaming fat, rather than sugar, for heart disease.

new investigation into how the sugar industry influenced research dove into internal documents from the industry group, the Sugar Research Foundation, and discovered that the industry funded a study on sugar and heart health, then yanked the funding when it didn’t yield the results it wanted.

According to NPR, early results from the 1968 Sugar Research Foundation study found that animals eating a high-sugar diet had higher triglyceride levels and higher levels of an enzyme associated with bladder cancer. The foundation quickly pulled funding, despite researchers asking for more time.

The end of that study wasn’t the end of research on sugar and our health or of industry-fueled controversy.

In the 1972, a researcher named John Yudkin wrote a book called Pure, White, and Deadly about the dangers of sugar. In the book, Yudkin said, “If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned.”

Like the industry study that got the axe, Yudkin’s research discovered a link between high sugar diets and high triglycerides, a risk factor for heart disease. Yudkin’s animal subjects also had higher insulin levels, which linked it to type 2 diabetes.

In response, the sugar lobby glommed on to the work of another researcher—Ancel Keys—who was studying how fat played into heart disease and other food-related health issues. This research jived with the health marketing that food companies wanted to do.

The food industry had discovered that it’s easy to reduce the fat in food, if you make up for it with lots of added sugar. Remember the low-fat food craze of the 70s and 80s? We have Keys and the sugar lobby to thank.

Even Yudkin admitted that more research was needed to confirm the link between sugar and chronic disease, but he didn’t get the chance. Instead, the sugar industry worked hard to discredit him and stop his research. Since the 70s, though, there has been mounting evidence that sugar is terrible for our health.

The sugar industry isn’t alone in cherry-picking research that makes its products look healthier. If you want to get an idea of how rampant these types of food studies are, I recommend checking out Marion Nestle’s ongoing series on sponsored studies. Nestle (no relation to the candy company) regularly rounds up examples of industry-funded research.

One recent article from Nestle’s series is about a sugar industry-funded study attacking the advice to eat less refined sugar. That advice isn’t grounded in real science, the study claims.

Related at Care2

For decades, the sugar industry has used its money and influence to shift the blame for food-related health problems to high fat foods. And we eat it up.

Images via Thinkstock.


Carole R
Carole R4 months ago

Sugar isn't good for you, no matter what anyone says.

Stephanie s
Stephanie s4 months ago

Thank you

Freya H
Freya H4 months ago

Of course the sugar industry will sponsor "studies" that show sugar isn't so bad, and of course they will poo-poo real studies that suggest sugar is bad. Look at what the tobacco industry did for decades.

John T
John T4 months ago

I do not use sugar in tea or coffee, do not drink soft drinks as they are stuffed up with sugar. When making biscuits or cakes I do not use sugar at all, I use spices.

Jeramie D
Jeramie D4 months ago

Sugar is bad

Rita Odessa
Rita Delfing4 months ago

Good reminders, I read an article in National Geo years back they compared the addiction of sugar no different than any other drug due to the part of the brain that it affects. The dirty players in the game doesn't surprise me.

Angela K
Angela AWAY K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Very interesting article Thank you for caring and sharing