It was recently revealed that the sugar industry has been conning us all into believing that dietary fat, not sugar, is the root of obesity and all related diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of American adults are obese. They have also reported that 17% of children are obese. We have all heard the many health concerns that obesity can bring about or worsen: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some kinds of cancer.
Many people from our parents’ generation viewed eating fat as the major cause of obesity. It makes sense: you eat fat, you become fat. Alas, nutritional science is far more complicated. A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has made the case that the sugar industry has been colluding with researchers to downplay the dangers of eating too much sugar.
The researchers followed correspondence between the Sugar Research Foundation (the major lobbying group for the industry) since the 1950s. They found that not only have they been putting millions of dollars into ads that tell us to eat more sugar and less fat. They have also funded most of the major research in this field. Whenever a new study came out implying sugar might negatively impact health, the SRF was quick to discredit them.
According to Marion Nestle, a nutrition expert whom we can only assume is not related to the candy company, “Science is not supposed to work this way. Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes, it is, and the practice continues.”
Although it does seem like it, I would not place all of the blame on faulty science. It is true that this was an abuse of the scientific method. However, it is the same scientific method that led our researchers to discover the truth.
What can we learn from this? We should drink less soda, but that’s hardly news. We shouldn’t immediately discount all nutrition science, but maybe we should take it with a grain of sugar.