Rahul Sharma

Sugar Association

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The Sugar Association is a trade association for the sugar industry in the United States. In the 1960s it was known at least in part as Sugar Research Foundation.

The association gained broader public attention in 2016 for nutrition research that its Research Foundation executive, John Hickson, had commissioned in the mid-1960s. Three Harvard University scientists including D. Mark Hegsted, later a USDA official, and Frederick J. Stare, the chairman of the university’s nutrition department, were paid an undisclosed $6,500 (nearly $50,000 in 2016 equivalent dollars) to produce a review of industry-selected research. The resulting paper in the New England Journal of Medicine "minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat [by saying fat was primarily causing heart problems]". The paper helped to shape nutrition guidance for decades away from even considering the dangers to the heart of sugar and its role in obesity in the human diet. In September, 2016, a study of this history, reviewing thousands of pages of documents from archives at Harvard, the University of Illinois and other libraries, was published by C.E. Kearns, L.A. Schmidt and Stanton Glantz, (Glantz a professor of medicine at UCSF), in JAMA Internal Medicine. The sugar industry was "able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” Glantz was quoted as saying in The New York Times. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, wrote separately in support of the 2016 JAMA article that there was “compelling evidence” that the sugar industry initiated research “expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.” The Sugar Association responded to the 2016 JAMA publications saying standards of disclosure and conflict of interest were non-existent or less stringent in the 1960s and that "most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research .... We’re disappointed to see a journal of JAMA’s stature being drawn into this trend.” The New England Journal of Medicine began to require financial disclosures in 1984.

Other research efforts by major dietary-sugar corporate interests -- soft drinks and candy -- similarly have been found to be considerably more likely for instance to "find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain" according to a 2015 report in the New York Times. This earlier New York Times report also noted that "a review of beverage studies, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, found that those funded by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies whose authors reported no financial conflicts."

References

Sugar Association Wikipedia


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