Few sciences have been as settled as dietary science…. until recently.

I chronicled the substantial revisions issued regarding the scientific “consensus” about cholesterol last year. The “War on Cholesterol” has officially ended, though there is evidence that it adversely impacted American health and the nation’s egg farmers while reaping absolutely no benefit.

Now a new analysis of correspondence during the 1960’s between a sugar trade group and researchers at Harvard University indicate there was an apparent collusion that ultimately cast doubt on sugar’s role in heart disease and directed all the blame at fat.

…In 1964, the group now known as the Sugar Association internally discussed a campaign to address “negative attitudes toward sugar” after studies began emerging linking sugar with heart disease, according to documents dug up from public archives. The following year the group approved “Project 226,” which entailed paying Harvard researchers today’s equivalent of $48,900 for an article reviewing the scientific literature, supplying materials they wanted reviewed, and receiving drafts of the article.

The resulting article published in 1967 concluded there was “no doubt” that reducing cholesterol and saturated fat was the only dietary intervention needed to prevent heart disease. The researchers overstated the consistency of the literature on fat and cholesterol, while downplaying studies on sugar, according to the analysis.

In a remarkably sweet bit of irony, Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies of New York University, drew quite a bit of attention to this discovery when she penned a commentary for the study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

…In my commentary, I reproduced a figure from the sugar-funded 1967 reviews. This summarizes the epidemiology showing that both sugar and saturated fat intake were then indistinguishably associated with increased mortality in 14 countries.

Nevertheless, the reviews exonerated sugars and blamed saturated fat.

Yes, I know that association does not necessarily mean causation, but I’m guessing that the epidemiology still shows that both sugars and saturated fats are associated with increased heart disease risk….

A perplexing aspect about the publicity surrounding this report is that Nestle’s analysis paints industry-funded science as being inherently tainted:

…Companies including Coca-Cola Co. and Kellogg Co. as well as groups for agricultural products like beef and blueberries regularly fund studies that become a part of scientific literature, are cited by other researchers, and are touted in press releases.

Companies say they adhere to scientific standards, and many researchers feel that industry funding is critical to advancing science given the growing competition for government funds. But critics say such studies are often thinly veiled marketing that undermine efforts to improve public health.

“Food company sponsorship, whether or not intentionally manipulative, undermines public trust in nutrition science, contributes to public confusion about what to eat,” wrote Nestle, a longtime critic of industry funding of science.

That would be opposed to government-funded science programs that have intentionally manipulated data to promote bureaucracy-backed climate change policies! A prime example of this fraud is described in a detailed analysis by meteorologist Antony Watts showing that at least half of the “global warming” in the US since 1979 has been fabricated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration!

I suspect the real lesson from this report is to examine the money trail whenever you deal with settled science. No matter who is paying for it, the findings are apt to be sour.


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