Documents that have surfaced from the 1960s reveal that the sugar industry both funded and manipulated research in an effort to counter the correlation between sugar and heart disease. In the latest online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, the evidence shows that the Sugar Research Fund—now the Sugar Association—colluded with the New England Journal of Medicine by funding a 1965 article that pointed to fat and cholesterol as dietary causes of heart disease, while diminishing evidence that sugar played a role. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Sugar Research Fund continued to both sponsor and set guidelines for coronary heart disease research projects, while keeping their involvement undisclosed. A spokesperson for the Sugar Association says, “We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however […] funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today.” Industry-backed research that tailors information to its benefit is not uncommon, as seen with meat industry-backed studies and the dairy market’s ubiquitous “Got Milk?” campaigns used to equate milk with calcium nutrition. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
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