A recent article in the New York Times has created a lot of buzz by revealing how the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease and blamed it all on saturated fat according to newly released historical documents published in JAMA Internal Medicine. This manipulation of scientific studies by the sugar industry is what led to the creation of our current dietary guidelines. The result? As a nation, we reduced our overall fat intake, swapping out foods containing protein and healthy fats for low-fat, high-sugar foods. I’ve written about this before, but since the guidelines were first released in 1980, adult obesity rates have doubled, and they are predicted to increase by another 50% by 2030. Childhood obesity and diabetes diagnoses have tripled. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, one-third is obese and roughly 25 million have diabetes. More and more researchers are concluding that these guidelines are based on flawed and inconclusive science, and this most recent article is proof.
The food industry continues to play a role in attempting to influence nutrition guidelines, from Coca-Cola funding research downplaying the link between sugary drinks and obesity and candy companies funding studies showing that children who eat candy weigh less than those who do not. The need for transparency is clear. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and an established food company “watchdog” wrote an editorial in response to these recent revelations where she said the documents provided “compelling evidence” that the sugar industry had initiated research “expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk for coronary heart disease. In her own words, “I think it’s appalling,” she said. “You just never see examples that are this blatant.” Hopefully all of this will lead to renewed pressure to take into account the positive effects a low-carb lifestyle has on heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and overall health in general.