How Big Sugar Industry Took Advantage of U.S. Government Research

sugar industry

A recent report has revealed that the sugar industry completely swayed federal research and the guidelines concluded from a study conducted by the United States government. It is a blunder that dental and nutrition experts are saying had caused long-lasting repercussions. Even though tooth decay is preventable simply by cutting back on the amount of sugar intake, it remains to be a continuous problem in the U.S. This is because of lack of awareness and research conducted in that field.

Tooth decay is considered as the most common chronic disease among adolescents and children as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report published recently in the medical journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) Medicine, uncovers that the big sugar industry considerably influenced the research performed in 1971 by the U.S. National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR). Now called the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), the sugar industry shifted the institutions angle away from dietary changes.

sugar industryThe strategy developed by the sugar industry was to deflect the attention of NIDR away from public health mediation aimed at decreasing the use of sugar. This also included various efforts like advocating for experimentation into a tooth decay vaccine. The report comes from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who scrutinized more than 300 internal documents from the industry going back to late 1950s through 1971. The documents were being stored at the University of Illinois in a public library collection. This is how the big sugar industry took advantage of the research conducted by the U.S. government.

During this period, NIDR was working to determine ways to eliminate the problem of tooth decay within the next 10 years. In 1967, an advisory committee recommended that NIDR target its attention to dietary reform. As a result, the government agency launched its National Caries Program in 1971. In case there is any doubt about how the industry got to wield such power, this could shed some light.

It must be reported that the sugar industry apparently had a lobby of key influencers as part of the subcommittee which was in charge of setting the priorities for the same research that helped in developing dental care policies. The committee which was set up to decide the priorities of the areas of the research for the NCP had a number of scientists and doctors who were in cahoots with the big sugar industry. They were also part of a group named the International Sugar Research Foundation. This group was formed by funding acquired from the sugar industry.

However, even with the help of its National Caries Program, the NIDR did not advice Americans to change or cut down their sugar consumption. It is not by coincidence that the research developed with federal funding by the resembled what the big sugar industry had proposed. According to the report, about 80 percent of the sugar industry’s recommended was blatantly endorsed and analysis that was felt to be possibly harmful for the industry was obviously edited out from the proposal. This is how the research conducted by the U.S. government’s funding was technically taken advantage of by the big sugar industry.

By Ankur Sinha

The Washington Post
New York Daily News
USA Today

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Iain Farrell – Flickr License
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