(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The sugar industry worked to steer federal health research, a report released Monday revealed.

As State of Health reported, newly uncovered industry documents dating to the1960s showed that the sugar industry influenced the National Institute of Dental Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, away from looking at research to determine strategies to encourage people to eat less sugar.

“What this shows is that sugar interests were running science manipulation in as sophisticated a manner as ‘big tobacco’ was back in the ’50s and ’60s,” said UCSF Professor Stan Glantz, a co-author of the study and longtime anti-tobacco advocate.

Earlier today, Glantz sent me a short but pointed follow that he posted on the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education website.

He excerpted from the statement the Sugar Association gave to Time Magazine and then drew a comparison:

It is challenging for the current Sugar Association staff to comment directly on documents and events that allegedly occurred before and during Richard Nixon’s presidency, given the staff has changed entirely since the 1970s. However, we are confused as to the relevance of attempts to dredge up history when decades of modern science has provided answers regarding the role of diet in the pathogenesis of dental caries… A combined approach of reducing the amount of time sugars and starches are in the mouth, drinking fluoridated water, and brushing and flossing teeth, is the most effective way to reduce dental caries. [Time shortened the statement for brevity]

In his post, Glantz then noted: “This sounds simliar to the statement from Brown and Williamson Tobacco put out in 1995 in response to our first papers based on tobacco industry documents:”

Lifting single phrases or sentences from 30 year-old documents and using that information to distort and misrepresent B&W’s position on a number of issues is clearly what is occurring … We continue to believe that nicotine is not addictive because over 40 million Americans have quit smoking, 90 percent of them without any help at all.

Industry Reaction to ‘Sugar Papers’ Mirrors Tobacco in 1990s 11 March,2015Lisa Aliferis


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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