Decades-old internal documents reveal sugar industry framed fat for heart disease

The sugar industry sponsored its first coronary heart disease research project in 1965 to downplay the link between sugar consumption and CHD, suggests a new study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers said they examined a myriad of internal documents from the trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, along with historical reports and statements related to the dietary causes of CHD.

They found that the sugar industry sponsored its first CHD research project in 1965, a literature review published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which identified fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of CHD and downplayed evidence that sugar consumption was also a risk factor.

"Together with other recent analyses of sugar industry documents, our findings suggest the industry sponsored a research program in the 1960s and 1970s that successfully cast doubt about the hazards of sucrose while promoting fat as the dietary culprit in CHD," the researchers wrote.

They recommended that policymaking committees consider putting less stock in food industry–funded studies and include mechanistic and animal studies, along with studies appraising the effect of added sugars on multiple CHD biomarkers and disease development.


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