What went Wrong with Promoting the General Welfare

May 28, 2019

A “research” investment of the 1960s might have led to selling more sugar, but it also might have led to accidentally sickening more than half the population. One of the sugar industry scientists eventually went on to play a prominent role in American dietary guidelines and nutrition philosophy.

In the 1960s, the sugar industry paid three Harvard scientists to publish a review of research on sugar vs. fat and their effects on heart disease. The Sugar Association paid the scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 and cherry picked the research included in the review, resulting in a biased article published in the New England Journal of Medicine stating that fat, rather than sugar, was the main culprit behind heart disease.

One of the scientists, Dr. D. Mark Hegsted, went on to become head of nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he assisted in drafting what would become the country’s dietary guidelines. This manipulation by the food companies in nutrition science resulted in a long-term deleterious effect for the US, with likely millions of premature deaths and trillions of dollars wasted in healthcare.

Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents. Cristin E. Kearns, DDS, MBA; Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH; Stanton A. Glantz, PhD. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(11):1680-1685. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5394