Before the conflict of interest disclosure was required, the sugar industry sponsored research in the 1960’s to promote dietary fat as a critical reason for coronary heart disease with the motive to downplay the role of sugar. According to the Guardian, a special report in JAMA Internal Medicine has indicated the same.
In The New England Journal of Medicine, a 1967 literature review indicated that fat and cholesterol are the dietary culprits of heart diseases. The review glossed over evidence from the 1950s of sugar having link to heart diseases. A new report indicates that the NEJM review was sponsored by the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF). Furthermore, SRF is today the Sugar Association, whose role was not disclosed at the time.
The new report indicates that from 1965 to 1966, the Harvard professor of nutrition, Dr. Mark Hegsted, co-directed the SRF’s first heart disease research project. Furthermore, the report shows communications between the SRF, Hegsted and another professor, Roger Adams. These communications were obtained from the University of Illinois archives and the Harvard Medical Library. The communications showed how the foundation set the objective for literature review, funding it and reviewing drafts of the manuscript.
Highly prestigious Harvard scientists were paid by the sugar association for publishing a review that focused on saturated fat and cholesterol as the root causes of heart disease at the time. At that time, some studies were accumulating facts that indicated how sugar is a risk factor for heart diseases. Such heavy interference had an impact over the whole research team as well as the direction of research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, about 610,000 people die in U.S of heart diseases every year. Furthermore, this places heart diseases as the top cause of death in both men and women. Being overweight or obesity as well as diabetes are the risk factors. Excess sugar intake fuels all of these factors.