Sweet Little Lies Podcast Notes
Are you a conspiracy theorist? Do you believe the decision makers would conspire against us to make money? The term conspiracy theorist has been used for decades to make anyone who asks questions and demands more information look like a nutter. Anyone who gets suspicious that things aren’t adding up and there is an obvious motive behind government policy is a crazy conspiracy theorist. Let’s all point and laugh and hopefully they shut up.
Eventually the truth comes out and the conspiracy theory becomes conspiracy fact.
Well in September this year (2016) this actually happened but hardly anyone has heard about it. Possibly with the USA election filling up the news and all of the controversy and conspiracies associated with Trump and Hillary that this news flash has not been addressed.
But this is possibly the biggest case of fraud and corruption in the health sector we have seen in modern times. Well at least until they get around to do the same investigation into other health policies for the masses anyway. I won’t dare name them now or I will be a conspiracy theorist again. For now, I am happy here on my high horse with my conspiracy facts published in September 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
This article is an historical analysis of the sugar industry’s influence on public policy. The author’s examined internal documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) to understand the influence that the sugar industry had in the 1960’s through the 1970’s targeted at diverting attention from the role of sugar in heart disease to dietary fats.
Research had shown how sugar (especially fructose) raises cholesterol and triglycerides and contributed to heart disease. The SRF hired respected academics Frederick Stare and Mark Hegsted of Harvard University School of Public Health Nutrition Department to publish literature review of reports incriminating sugar. They were paid USD48,900 (2016 USD equivalent) to write and publish the review that led to policy makers diverting their attention to sugar and away from fat.
I wonder if they understood the impact this would have on the world we live in today and how many lives have been ruined by the greed and corruption.
1954 SRF president Henry Hass speech
“What’s New in Sugar Research,”to the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists identified a strategic opportunity for the sugar industry: increase sugar’s market share by getting Americans to eat a lower-fat diet: “Leading nutritionists are pointing out the chemical connection between [American’s] high-fat diet and the formation of cholesterol which partly plugs our arteries and capillaries, restricts the flow of blood, and causes high blood pressure and heart trouble…if you put [the middle-aged man] on a low-fat diet, it takes just five days for the blood cholesterol to get down to where it should be…”
This was a false and misleading statement; not based on any research, was purely a marketing campaign and sales strategy
“If the carbohydrate industries were to recapture this 20 percent of the calories in the US diet (the difference between the 40percent which fat has and the 20 percent which it ought to have) and if sugar maintained its present share of the carbohydrate market, this change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of sugar more than a third with a tremendous improvement in general health.”
At the time the recommended intake was closer to 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fats. Switching to 60% carbohydrates (taking 20% from fat), 30% protein and 10% fats would significantly improve the business plan.
The industry would subsequently spend $600 000 ($5.3 million in 2016 dollars) to teach “people who had never had a course in biochemistry…that sugar is what keeps every human being alive and with energy to face our daily problems.”
Since 1957, British physiologist John Yudkin had challenged population studies singling out saturated fat as the primary dietary cause of CHD and suggested that other factors, including sucrose, were at least equally important.
By 1962, the SRF became concerned with evidence showing that a low-fat diet high in sugar could elevate serum cholesterol level.
At its November 1962 SAB meeting, the SRF considered an AMA Council on Foods and Nutrition report, The Regulation of Dietary Fat, that, according to the SRF, “indicate[d] that, in low fat diets, the kind of carbohydrate ingested may have an influence on the formation of serum cholesterol.” The SAB concluded, “that research developments in the [CHD] field should be watched carefully.” The SRF’s vice president and director of research, John Hickson, started closely monitoring the field.
In December 1964, Hickson reported to an SRF subcommittee that new CHD research was a cause for concern: “From a number of laboratories of greater or lesser repute, there are flowing reports that sugar is a less desirable dietary source of calories than other carbohydrates, eg,—Yudkin.”
In response to the research showing people are getting sicker from this campaign Hickson proposed that the SRF “could embark on a major program” to counter Yudkin and other “negative attitudes toward sugar.”
He recommended an opinion poll (market research!! And not scientific research!!!) “to learn what public concepts we should reinforce and what ones we need to combat through our research and information and legislative programs”
and a symposium to “bring detractors before a board of their peers where their fallacies could be unveiled.”
Finally, he recommended that SRF fund CHD research: “There seems to be a question as to whether the [atherogenic] effects are due to the carbohydrate or to other nutrient imbalance. We should carefully review the reports, probably with a committee of nutrition specialists; see what weak points there are in the experimentation, and replicate the studies with appropriate corrections. Then we can publish the data and refute our detractors.”
In 1965, the SRF asked Fredrick Stare, chair of the Harvard University School of Public Health Nutrition Department to join its SAB as an ad hoc member. Stare was an expert in dietary causes of CHD and had been consulted by the NAS, National Heart Institute, and AHA, as well as by food companies and trade groups. Stare’s industry- favourable positions and financial ties would not be widely questioned until the 1970s.
On July 1, 1965, the SRF’s Hickson visited D. Mark Hegsted, a faculty member of Stare’s department, after publication of articles in Annals of Internal Medicine in June 1965 linking sucrose to CHD.
The first 2 articles reported results from an epidemiological study suggesting that blood glucose levels were a better predictor of atherosclerosis than serum cholesterol level or hypertension.
The third demonstrated that sucrose and hypothesized that “perhaps fructose, a constituent of sucrose but not of starch, [was] the agent mainly responsible.”
These findings corroborated Yudkin’s research and that if elevated serum triglyceride levels were a CHD risk factor, then “sucrose must be atherogenic.”
On July 11, 1965, the New York Herald Tribune ran a full-page article on the Annals articles stating that new research showed sugar to contribute to heart disease.
In response SRF Funds Project 226: A Literature Review on Sugars, Fats, and CHD
On July 13, 1965, 2 days after the Tribune article, the SRF’s executive committee approved Project 226, a literature review on “Carbohydrates and Cholesterol Metabolism” by Hegsted and Robert McGandy, overseen by Stare.
The SRF initially offered $500 ($3800 in 2016 dollars) to Hegsted and $1000($7500in 2016 dollars) to McGandy, “half to be paid when you start work on the project, and the remainder when you inform me that the article has been accepted for publication.”
Eventually, the SRF would pay them $650032 ($48 900 in 2016 dollars) for “a review article of the several papers which find some special metabolic peril in sucrose and, in particular, fructose.”
Over the following months Hegsted and Hickson created the review articles to discredit all opposing research and promote sugar over fat for heart health.
Publication of Project 226
Project 226 resulted in a 2-part literature review by McGandy, Hegsted, and Stare “Dietary Fats, Carbohydrates and Atherosclerotic Disease,” in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 1967. Industry and nonindustry funding of the review authors’ experimental research was disclosed, but the SRF’s funding and participation in the review was not.
Evidence reported in the review was relevant to 2 questions: (1) Does the high sucrose content of the American diet cause CHD? and (2) What is the comparative effectiveness of interventions modifying the sucrose or saturated fat content of the diet for the prevention of CHD?
The review concluded there was “no doubt” that the only dietary intervention required to prevent CHD was to reduce dietary cholesterol and substitute polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat in the American diet.
(sound familiar?? That is what they are still saying today!!)
The review summarized findings from epidemiologic, experimental, and mechanistic studies examining the role of sucrose in CHD. It reported that epidemiologic studies showed a positive association between
- high sucrose consumption and CHD outcomes and that experimental studies showed that sucrose caused serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels to rise in healthy individuals, and serum triglyceride levels to rise in those with hypertriglyceridemia.
- it reported that mechanistic studies demonstrated the biological plausibility of sucrose affecting serum cholesterol level mediated through changes to the intestinal microbiome,
- and fructose, a component of sucrose, affecting serum triglyceride levels mediated through endogenous lipogenesis in the liver, adipose tissues, and other organs.
The review evaluated the quality of individual studies, including the work of Yudkin and the Iowa Group, investigators whom the SRF had identified as threatening before initiating the review15 and in correspondence while it was being prepared. The review discounted these studies on the grounds that they contained questionable data or incorrect interpretation (just like they were paid to do)
Notice that this research is still having to fight its way through to see the light of day. Now we are all talking about microbiome and its effects on cvd and insulin issues etc. We could be 40 years better off if not covered up.
Overall, the review focused on possible bias in individual studies and types of evidence rather than on consistency across studies and the coherence of epidemiologic, experimental and mechanistic evidence.
The review presented the biased corrupt studies as fact and any opposing concepts as bad science even though it was exactly the opposite.
- These internal documents show that the SRF initiated CHD research in 1965 to protect market share and that its first project, a literature review, was published in NEJM in 1967 without disclosure of the sugar industry’s funding or role.
- The NEJM review served the sugar industry’s interests by arguing that epidemiologic, animal, and mechanistic studies associating sucrose with CHD were limited, implying they should not be included in an evidentiary assessment of the CHD risks of sucrose.
- Following the NEJM review, the sugar industry continued to fund research on CHD and other chronic diseases “as a main prop of the industry’s defense.”
- For example, in 1971, it influenced the National Institute of Dental Research’s National Caries Program to shift its emphasis to dental caries interventions other than restricting sucrose.
- The industry commissioned a review, “Sugar in the Diet of Man,” which it credited with, among other industry tactics, favourably influencing the 1976 US Food and Drug Administration evaluation of the safety of sugar. These findings, our analysis, and current Sugar Association criticisms of evidence linking sucrose to cardiovascular disease suggest the industry may have a long history of influencing federal policy.
- This historical account of industry efforts demonstrates the importance of having reviews written by people without conflicts of interest and the need for financial disclosure. Scientific reviews shape policy debates, subsequent investigations, and the funding priorities of federal agencies. The NEJM has required authors to disclose all conflicts of interest since 1984, and conflict of interest disclosure policies have been widely implemented since the sugar industry launched its CHD research program
- Access to documents not meant for public consumption has provided the public health community unprecedented insight into industry motives, strategies, tactics, and data designed to protect companies from litigation and regulation.
- This analysis suggests that research using sugar industry documents has the potential to inform the health community about how to counter this industry’s strategies and tactics to control information on the adverse health effects of sucrose. (IF THE PUBLIC EVER GET TO HEAR ABOUT IT)
Conclusion from the study:
“This study suggests that the sugar industry sponsored its first CHD research project in 1965 to downplay early warning signals that sucrose consumption was a risk factor in CHD. As of 2016, sugar control policies are being promulgated in international, federal, state, and local venues. Yet CHD risk is inconsistently cited as a health consequence of added sugars consumption.
Because CHD is the leading cause of death globally, the health community should ensure that CHD risk is evaluated in future risk assessments of added sugars. Policymaking committees should consider giving less weight to food industry–funded studies, and include mechanistic and animal studies as well as studies appraising the effect of added sugars on multiple CHD biomarkers and disease development”
Here is the link to the full text article http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2548255
The link to the podcast relating to this post can be found here: (or search for us on itunes – ATP Project)