Grinch and Sugar

December 27, 2016 in Food Economics, Foodland, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

On December 20, 2016, an article was published at that concluded that the: “Guidelines on dietary sugar do not meet criteria for trustworthy recommendations and are based on low-quality evidence. Public health officials (when promulgating these recommendations) and their public audience (when considering dietary behavior) should be aware of these limitations.”

Let me just begin with “Holy Cow!!!” Are you kidding me, Annals of Internal Medicine? Really? Does the pre-repentant Grinch whose heart is five sizes too small work at the Annals? This is a respected, peer-review medical journal; most any valid, well-done research would be pleased to have their research published in this journal.

Let’s just take a second look at the scientifically sounding name of the organization that paid for the Annals study. The primary funding source is the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute – whose by line is “Global Partnerships for a Healthier World.” That sounds so ….. so, well, scientific and altruistic. Right? This organization is essentially BIG FOOD and BIG PHARMA and BIG ENERGY. Among their over 400 members, the most powerful and influential are: Coca-Cola; Hershey’s; Kraft Foods; General Mills; Kellogs; McDonald’s; Nestle; and PepsiCo. In addition, one of the authors of the study is a member of the scientific advisory board of Tate & Lyle, one of the world’s largest suppliers of high-fructose corn syrup. If you understand how research is influenced and biased by huge funding, then you probably are finished reading this post.

When I first saw the article, I thought, “Surely, this is some kind of sick joke.”

I said in my 2010 post Can We Not Get Plump Enough with Sugar?, “Should we ask the tobacco processors association whether we should smoke cigarettes?” I have written many times about various industries, including sugar, using tobacco’s playbook; which is to sow doubt on the legitimate research. It worked for so many years for the tobacco industry, why wouldn’t they use the same techniques? As I have written before, the more they can confuse the public, the more the public will drag their feet in making the necessary changes which move them to better health.

What’s most disturbing is that the Annals article did not address the hundreds of randomized controlled trials that have documented the harms of sugar and upon which the WHO and other organizations have based the guidelines to reduce sugar intake.

It is reported that Dr. Dean Schillinger, who fought the soda industry in the past couple of years; and is chief of the University of California, San Francisco, division of general internal medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, said this: “They’re hijacking the scientific process in a disingenuous way to sow doubt and jeopardize public health.” This is one reason the general public is suspicious of research that claims to be sound science. They know money is able to compromise any aspect of research, including the conclusions drawn from it.

I don’t really need to get on my ‘be careful with your sugar intake band wagon’ today; as I’ve written so much about that in the past. I’ll just say one thing on that subject. We all know that sugar has no nutrients except calories. That’s absolutely none. The point is that if you’re eating lots of sugar, you’re not getting the nutrients that your body needs to be healthy. It’s really quite simple. Not only does consuming lots of sugar raise your risk of weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, but it increases your chance of not being optimally healthy.

Now, after saying all that, I recognize that we’re in the midst our sugar-consuming season. It’s the time of year that we indulge a bit more than usual. Don’t let this one study that ignores the most serious and substantial research and was backed by questionable funding sources influence you to think that too much sugar has no impact. Enjoy your holiday season; enjoy sweets if you like; but try to be cognizant of the fact that too much sugar is not a good thing. Doesn’t the Grinch go somewhere in hiding when it’s not Christmas time? Like the Grinch, I hope this goes away quickly with little notice. Sure, evaluate all the research you want, even do your own; but keep being careful with sugar and refined starch.

Sending my best wishes for a Happy 2017!