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Laura Dolson

Confidential Documents Reveal "Big Sugar's" Strategies

By December 2, 2012

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sugarDid you ever wonder why we don't hear more from government agencies about the dangers of sugar? So did dentist and administrator Dr. Cristin Kearns Couzens. When she attended a conference in 2007 related to diabetes and gum disease, she heard things that implied that sugar is not a problem (especially odd at a conference related to both diabetes and dentistry). Puzzled, she began a quest that ultimately led to her uncovering a treasure trove of confidential documents from the sugar industry and quitting her job to devote herself to researching the situation. (Couzens is since reemployed, teaching at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.) She and Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why we Get Fat) have an article in the current issue of Mother Jones magazine, Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies.

This collaboration is square in the middle of where Taubes excels -- meticulously piecing together the history of how nutritional policy came to be -- plus he was already writing a book about sugar. The duo start with World War II, when sugar was rationed. The sugar industry attempted to rebound after the war by proclaiming that sugar was a weight loss aid(!) Then they take us through the years where sugar began to be maligned, people began to cut back, and the industry responded with a savvy long-term campaign to suppress research about sugar, support their own research, and influence the medical establishment (actually I should say "industries", since Coke, Hershey, Kellog, and many more were apparently happy to chip in and do their part).

The article is well worth reading, as well as Couzens' Web site Sugar Politics and Taubes' blog.

Photo © George Doyle

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December 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm
(1) Richard David Feinman says:

You do hear a lot from the government about sugar and you will hear more. The deviousness of the sugar industry is separate from the dangers of sugar which are widely exaggerated. Isn’t that good? Isn’t reducing sugar good? Well, once you exaggerate, once you give up on science, you won’t know anything about sugar. What Gary Taubes has not noticed is the deviousness of the anti-sugar industry led by Rob Lustig, the AHA and the other friendly folks who brought you the low-fat fiasco (which they haven’t given up), So what’s going on? This is the last-ditch effort to save high carb. If you can set up sugar as a demon, you can keep pushing those healthy high fiber starches. But the deviousness of the proponents is not the same as the question of whether or not the science is right and here is the danger. Lustig’s science is not sound. So why don’t the biochemists jump in to straighten everybody out. Partly, we don’t know the answer. Partly it is that it is complicated. In my blogpost “Flawed studies II. Occam’s Razor and How to Reduce Fructose Consumption.” http://wp.me/p16vK0-dz I suggested that we stick with what we know well and that is the value of carbohydrate restriction. If you want to do it by reducing sugar, that’s one way but if you just take out sugar and still have a high carbohydrate diet you will be disappointed.

December 19, 2012 at 11:55 am
(2) Peter says:

Great work, Laura. You are informed and diligent in your research. Thanks!

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