This Crony-Capitalist Food Lobby “Caused Untold Damage To Humanity”

How an obscure sugar lobbying group helped start global health crisis

Daily Maverick – From the mid-20th century, the US’s Sugar Research Foundation launched an all-out offensive in defence of sugar, financing hundreds of studies that presented it in a favourable light.

It caused untold damage to humanity.

“Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease.” – Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Some 67 years ago, at the beginning of February 1954, 52-year-old Dr. Henry Bohn Hass, a specialist in organic chemistry who would in 1969 be awarded the gold medal of the American Institute of Chemists, attended the eighth general meeting of the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, in Denver, Colorado.

At the time, he was president of the US’s Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), a position he had held since 1952. At that meeting he gave a speech titled “What’s new in sugar research?”, laying out some of the challenges faced by the US sugar industry. Hass said:

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“The Roper survey showed that there are three tangible reasons why people do not use sugar: fear of obesity, fear of caries [dental cavities] and fear of diabetes. Every doctor now knows that sugar does not cause diabetes; this fact is slowly diffusing to the laymen.

“If the anti-enzymes perform as expected against caries, it will enable us to concentrate on other problems of the sugar industry.

“Fear of obesity is undoubtedly the greatest single deterrent to sugar consumption. This is understandable; the principal nutritional function of sugar is to furnish calories and calories are what the obese person is trying to minimise,” 

He noted some of his concerns about the changing nature of the US diet: specifically that people were eating more meat, less flour and potatoes, and sugar consumption was not growing.

“In the United States, fewer than 4,500 farm businesses produce sugar. Yet they cost taxpayers up to $4 billion a year in subsidies. The U.S. sugar program is a Stalinist-style supply control initiative that limits imports through quotas and domestic production through what are called marketing allotments.” – MarketWatch 

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He went on to tell the technologists:

“Americans now have a strangely distorted diet with only 48.5% of the calories derived from carbohydrates, 40% from fat and 11.5% from protein.”

“If the carbohydrate industries were to recapture this 20% of the calories in the US diet (the difference between the 40% which fat has and the 20% which it ought to have) and if sugar maintained its present share of the carbohydrate market, this change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of sugar of more than a third with a tremendous improvement in general health … ” 

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“We Consume Way Too Much Added Sugar”

“The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.” – Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

November 5, 2019

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL – Sugar has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health.

Sugar occurs naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. Consuming whole foods that contain natural sugar is okay.

Plant foods also have high amounts of fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy foods contain protein and calcium.

Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Consuming too much sugar

However, problems occur when you consume too much added sugar — that is, sugar that food manufacturers add to products to increase flavor or extend shelf life.

In the American diet, the top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. But added sugar is also present in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.

The result: we consume way too much added sugar. Adult men take in an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the National Cancer Institute. That’s equal to 384 calories.

“Excess sugar’s impact on obesity and diabetes is well documented, but one area that may surprise many men is how their taste for sugar can have a serious impact on their heart health,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Impact on your heart

In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease … Read more. 

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