Are you ready to get riled up? Because we are feeling all kinds of feisty over here at Fit Bottomed HQ after reading this week’s NY Times article about how the sugar industry bribed researchers in the 60s to blame saturated fat instead of sugar for heart disease.
Yeah. That is a thing that actually happened — and it’s explained in depth in a recent JAMA Internal Medicine publication.
While we encourage you to read the full NY Times article — it’s infuriatingly fascinating, here’s the tl;dr for you on how the sugar industry shifted blame to fat:
- The Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) sponsored a coronary heart disease research project in 1965 — this relationship was not clearly disclosed at the time.
- The SRF paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars in order to influence what they published in their 1967 review of the research.
- Documents from that period of time showed that the SRF heavily influenced the researchers by handpicking which studies were used in the review and making it clear that the SRF wanted the results to show sugar in a favorable light, shifting blame for the increase in coronary heart disease to fat.
- These results were published in a prestigious medical journal, which then heavily influenced scientific discussion on the topic in the years to follow.
- It appears that research in the following decades has continued to be influenced by the sugar industry with varying levels of transparency.
We’ve been on the “eat healthy fats, cut down on sugar” bandwagon for a long time now, but this still sets our teeth on edge. You’ll hear more from us about this in the weeks to come — promise — but in the meantime, we’d love to hear from those of you in the food and research industries on the following:
How do you feel about industry-funded (vs. publicly-funded) research? Do you take it at face value, or do you look at the source of funding for new research and interpret results accordingly? Does this recent news change that at all? —Kristen & Jenn