This post was originally published in my September 2016 email newsletter.

A recently published article in NY Times discussed recent findings about how the sugar industry paid off medical experts back in the 60’s to publish studies about how fat and saturated fats were to blame for cardiovascular disease.

“The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.”

These findings are substantial; it is because of these “studies” that experts have advised the way Americans have been eating for almost 50 years. Traditional eating of our grandparents and their parents didn’t banish all fats and animal products. Sugar consumption was also not as high and modern-day diseases that have been linked to sugar such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s were not as rampant. We’ve been told by officials to adopt a diet low in saturated fats to protect our hearts and maintain healthy weight, yet Americans continue to suffer from obesity and cardiovascular issues much more than nations who don’t fear fat.

With the rise in low-fat diets throughout the US in the 70’s and 80’s we subsequently saw an uptick in these aforementioned diseases. It was sugar and processed carbohydrates that Americans began to replace with the fats that were removed from their everyday eating — a recommendation based on findings which should have advocated for our health rather than big business.

“In 1965, Mr. Hickson enlisted the Harvard researchers to write a review that would debunk the anti-sugar studies. He paid them a total of $6,500, the equivalent of $49,000 today. Mr. Hickson selected the papers for them to review and made it clear he wanted the result to favor sugar.” Mr. Hickson was a sugar industry expert.

My thoughts: this is not news to me. I’ve heard variations of this story before and it’s about time that a legit journal such as JAMA is revealing this truth. Though it’s unfortunate that we as a nation have been lead down the wrong path towards improving our health, the good news is, in the past few years there have been a change in dietary recommendations finally acknowledging a weaker correlation between fat consumption, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, while also recommending a restriction in sugar consumption.

To read the NYT article, click here.


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Mike is a holistic nutritionist that helps people feel more optimistic about their health and wellness through changes in diet and lifestyle shifts.

He has authored posts and articles featured on MarthaStewart.com, today.com, and iVillage.com.