Sugar Industry Funds Controversial ‘Pro-Sugar’ Research

Sugar Industry Funds Controversial 'Pro-Sugar' Research
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There’s no clear link between sugar consumption and negative health effects, says a new study funded by the world’s leading soda and snack companies.

The International Life Sciences Institute  paid for the research, which was published in current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Member organizations of the International Life Sciences Institute include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars Inc, and Hershey Co.

Food companies—soda makers in particular—are facing a growing research-backed scientific consensus that links consumption of sugary soft drinks to health issues including obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. Numerous U.S. cities recently passed soda taxes in efforts to decrease soda consumption and influence healthy choice-making in neighborhoods where soda is more prevalent such as low-income food deserts.

“The report questions the quality of evidence used by organizations including the U.S. government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others that have advised people to cut down consumption of added sugars to promote health,” reports Reuters.

The report concluded that the numerous recommendations about sugar consumption, despite coming from well-established research institutes, can confuse the public, leading to poor decision making about sugar in the diet.

In the same issue as the study, the AIM also published an editorial condemning the research for its corporate-friendly conclusions, calling it a “politicization of science” and pointed to the “remarkable consistency” among the numerous peer-reviewed studies on sugar’s link to serious health issues.

To publish these contrasting opinions in the same issue is considered a bold and rare move by AIM, but one the journal says was warranted because sugar consumption is of such “great interest” to not only medical professionals, but the general public.

“This comes right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook,” Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University, told Reuters of the study’s backers and its intent. “Cast doubt on the science.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.