BY STEVE BORN
In the last issue of Endurance News we wrote about Project 259, which brought to light the sugar industry's burying of a study's results that appeared to show a link with sucrose and heart disease and bladder cancer (Sugargate). This is on the heels of our earlier report regarding the Sugar Research Foundation paying off three Harvard scientists to make sugar seem less unhealthy and instead put the blame on fat (hammernutrition.com/blog/sugar/).
Even though some of these events go back 50+ years, we're still fuming over them and you should be as well. Why? Because far too many people put their faith in the blatantly false conclusions provided by supposedly prominent Harvard nutritional scientists, conclusions bought and paid for by the sugar industry that de-emphasized the harmful effects of their product. People were led to believe that, aside from lacking nutrients, sugar was a basically a benign substance, which undoubtedly influenced them that it was okay to eat sugar-laden foods.
One of the Harvard researchers bolstered the idea that sugar was a harmless substance, courtesy of some of his recommendations*, a sample of which include:
- That sugar is a quick energy food...put a teaspoon in [your] coffee or tea three or four times a day
- That Coca-Cola is a healthy between-meals snack
- That all Americans should drink a cup of corn oil a day
- That we should Eat your [food] additives. They're good for you
- That We get as much food value from refined foods that have been enriched as from natural foods, and sometimes more
With these recommendations - and the relentless promotion that sugar wasn't the cause of health issues - squarely a part of the mainstream thought process, one has to wonder how many people unnecessarily succumbed to sugar-related disease and death. Of course, we can't blame one person for all of the deaths resulting from excess sugar consumption; however, the statistics that research has revealed are staggering and disturbing: In 2006, deaths from coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke specifically caused by elevated blood glucose was estimated to be approximately 3.2 million annually*.
Sadly, the deceptive practices and influences of the sugar industry still appear to be happening. As an example, just three years ago a paper was published in PLOS Medicine that revealed how the sugar industry influenced the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR). In 1971, the NIDR launched a program called the National Carries Program (NCP) that was designed to identify interventions to eradicate tooth decay within a decade. As it turned out, research that could have been harmful to sugar industry interests was omitted from priorities identified at the launch of the program. Instead of exploring the benefits of less sugar consumption, the focus shifted to other more-costly and less-plausible possibilities, including finding a vaccine for tooth decay.
In their conclusions, the authors wrote: The NCP was a missed opportunity to develop a scientific understanding of how to restrict sugar consumption to prevent tooth decay. A key factor was the alignment of research agendas between the NIDR and the sugar industry. This historical example illustrates how industry protects itself from potentially damaging research, which can inform policy makers today.
The accumulation of over 50 years of research has clearly shown that sugar is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Unfortunately, that information has been suppressed by the sugar industry. Sadly, the practice continues to this day. Going back to the Project 259 incident in the mid 60's, nutritional expert, Marion Nestle, wrote:
This 50-year-old incident may seem like ancient history, but it is quite relevant, not least because it answers some questions germane to our current era. Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes, it is, and the practice continues.
Sugar is not a harmless, benign substance; it's simply not good for your health or athletic performance and it never will be. Big Sugar will tell you otherwise, but don't be swayed by their deceptive claims. Excess sugar intake is a major factor in heart disease, the number one killer of Americans (an estimated 16 million Americans have heart disease), as well as a number of cancers, Alzheimer's disease, and more. Don't be a victim. Don't be a statistic.