How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat

How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat reads the headline in The New York Times. As you can imagine this caused a bit of a stir, but most of us Banters just sat there nodding our heads and silently saying to ourselves (or possibly shouting it from the rooftops), “I told you so! It was only a matter of time until the truth came out.”

RMR readers will not be surprised to hear that the forerunner of the American Sugar Association paid Harvard scientists to lie about the role of sugar versus fat in the diet. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, these scientists cherry-picked studies and crafted dubious logic to downplay the role of sugar in heart disease, while drawing attention to the potentially harmful effects of fat. The review was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 1967.

While Harvard University has never admitted the corruption of some of its top luminaries (one of the authors of the study, D. Mark Hegsted, went on to become head of nutrition at the United Sates Department of Agriculture and helped draft the infamous 1977 US Dietary Guidelines), the Harvard School of Public Nutrition did recant its position in 2013:

“Well, it’s time to end the low-fat myth. The low-fat approach to eating may have made a difference for the occasional individual, but as a nation, it hasn’t helped us control weight or become healthier. In the 1960s, fats and oils supplied Americans with about 45 percent of calories; about 13 percent of adults were obese and under one percent had type 2 diabetes, a serious weight-related condition. Today, Americans take in less fat, getting about 33 percent of calories from fats and oils; yet 34 percent of adults are obese, and 11 percent have diabetes, most with type 2 diabetes”.

The article, “How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat,” reveals how the publishing standards of the day so easily allowed the food industry to commit this fraud on the American public and ultimately on the whole world, via the influence of the US Dietary Guidelines.

Like we keep reminding you, when you read dietary advice, or indeed any advice (medical, pharmaceutical, or other advice relating to your health), the first question you should be asking yourself is: what are the commercial interests driving the advice?

Let’s take a look at the development of the food industry’s commercial interests. Eighty years ago, most of our food came directly from the farm to our plate. Exceptions were milled grains and tinned foods. After the World War II, when US farms started producing surplus grains, a new industry arose to take its place in between the farmer and the consumer. Over time, farmers lost the ability to communicate with their customers. Instead, the messaging came from an industry whose commercial interests were to pay the farmer as little as possible for raw materials (wheat, corn, and soya), while justifying to the consumer that all the processing that was going on in the factory was adding huge nutritional value. Breakfast cereals cost the consumer ten times as much as is paid to the farmer for the ingredients.

Sadly, by giving over the position of economic power to the food processing industry, the truth about what is good for your health was turned on its head. Carbs and sugar, so easy to manipulate chemically into addictive food with a convenient package and long shelf-life, became the staples of our western diet, replacing whole foods, direct from the farm.

Our message has, and will always be: Get awesome health by eating real food with no ingredient list. “Real food doesn’t have ingredients; it is ingredients.” Jamie Oliver

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