New research points to evidence that the sugar industry may have put a self-serving twist on a report published in 1967 in the New England Journal of Medicine—one that has been giving fat and cholesterol a bad name ever since.
The report in question focused on the role of sugar and fat in heart disease, and here is where it gets interesting. It was commissioned by the Sugar Research Foundation (now known as the Sugar Association), a trade organization that advocates sugar as part of a healthy diet, and it came in response to research released around the same time that pointed to sugar as a major contributing factor for heart disease.
Now, more than 50 years later and following a review of the study findings and other correspondence surrounding the SRF-funded report, researchers from the University of California San Francisco believe they have found “…compelling evidence that a sugar trade association not only paid for but also initiated and influenced research expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD).”
Why does it matter? For years that influential 1967 report had us all believing that cutting back on fat and cholesterol was all we needed to do to prevent CHD, but today we know that dietary sugar is just as influential in terms of heart health. If the information had been accurate 50 years ago, experts like UCSF Health Policy Professor Laura Schmidt wonder if we might be further along in our research today.