Government and the Industrial Sugar Machine

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Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens have published an article in Mother Jones that exposes the sugar industry, and its various arms of propaganda, for mounting a massive campaign to cover up research linking sugar consumption to diabetes and heart disease, while also funding and promoting biased research to support the notion that sugar consumption presented no threat to human health. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, General Mills, and Nabisco  – surprise, surprise – have been significant supporters of Big Sugar and its shenanigans. The authors write:

Precisely how did the sugar industry engineer its turnaround? The answer is found in more than 1,500 pages of internal memos, letters, and company board reports we discovered buried in the archives of now-defunct sugar companies as well as in the recently released papers of deceased researchers and consultants who played key roles in the industry’s strategy. They show how Big Sugar used Big Tobacco-style tactics to ensure that government agencies would dismiss troubling health claims against their products. Compared to the tobacco companies, which knew for a fact that their wares were deadly and spent billions of dollars trying to cover up that reality, the sugar industry had a relatively easy task. With the jury still out on sugar’s health effects, producers simply needed to make sure that the uncertainty lingered. But the goal was the same: to safeguard sales by creating a body of evidence companies could deploy to counter any unfavorable research.

What this article is suggesting is that the government-pharmaceutical-medical establishment lipid hypothesis that demonized fat and cholesterol and linked consumption of both to cardiovascular disease, was, in part, a spin of the Industrial Sugar Machine to deflect questions about the health effects of its own product while (1) influencing federal diabetes research and (2) shifting the emphasis to cholesterol and fat as the causes of disease. The Industrial Sugar Machine also funded studies that specifically targeted researchers who were deemed “enemies of sugar” in that their research had begun to exonerate fat and cholesterol while focusing on sugar as a potential health hazard. Ancel Keys was the most visible, modern proponent of the lipid hypothesis that became the instigation for the federal dietary guidelines and the war against fat, and his research was well funded by the sugar industry.

What I find interesting is that Taubes and Couzens point out that the nefarious Sugar Association first sprouted its roots as a research foundation bent on countering WWII government propaganda on sugar rationing. What they didn’t note in this article is that this propaganda existed almost thirty years earlier, during WWI.


Also see the Mother Jones video interview with Gary Taubes. Note that Lew Rockwell did a podcast with Gary Taubes earlier this year.

5:20 pm on November 1, 2012