Sugar industry paid researchers to say fats cause heart disease
For nearly 50 years, saturated fats were seen as the main culprits behind heart disease, and the discovery of some old research papers has revealed why: the sugar industry was paying scientists to say so.
Sugar was suspected to cause heart disease in the 1960s, but the Sugar Association threw everyone off the scent by paying the equivalent of $50,000 to three Harvard scientists for a review that minimized the link between sugar and heart disease and, instead, pointed the finger at saturated fats.
The seminal paper, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, influenced government health policy and was instrumental in launching the low-fat foods industry.
But the whole thing was a scam, paid for by the sugar industry, as documents uncovered by a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco have revealed.
One of the Harvard scientists paid by the sugar industry was D. Mark Hegsted, who went on to become head of nutrition at the US Department of Agriculture and who drafted the dietary guidelines for the US in 1977.
The paper was initiated by John Hickson, a prominent sugar-industry executive, who wanted to deflect the blame away from sugar onto saturated fats, which was in line with the theories of Ancel Keys, who falsified research to demonstrate that saturated fats raised cholesterol levels which, in turn, cause cardiovascular disease.
(JAMA Intern Med, 2016; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5394)
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