Recent findings and admissions have brought to light a troubling, but not surprising, revelation regarding the health concerns of Sugar in our diets.
It now appears that 50-years ago Harvard scientists doing research on the effects of various food items in the American Diet, and how they related to serious matters such as Heart Disease, were paid to fudge their findings. The Sugar Research Foundation (SRF, now organized as the Sugar Association) had discovered that if they were to allay fears of the huge amounts of processed refined sugar rapidly find its way into a wide spectrum of food items sold on store shelves, it would mean huge profits for the sugar industry.
As early as 1956, the SRF realized the importance of downplaying the risks of sweets to the Baby Boomer generation, who were having lots of children, as they prospered in the post-WWII American economy. Large checks were eventually written by the SRF to scientists at Harvard who were doing prominent research into Heart Disease and its causes. One of those scientists eventually became head nutritionist at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
Should Americans be surprised then at the high obesity rates among both children and adults the country is currently experiencing? Of course not. The low-fat, high-sugar diets we have enjoyed for the last 50-years betrayed common sense and assuaged our desire for all things yummy. But trusted scientists assured us through authored statistics that Fat was bad, Sugar – not so much.
Should we be surprised that members of the American Food Industry bent the rules and facts of science for profit? No. But we should be hopping mad. Trust has long been broken when it comes to what we are told by the powers that be. But when it comes to food and water, the lies have deadly effects.
Consider the huge profits of the Sugar Industry. Not only have sugar’s biggest companies enjoyed substantial subsidies from the federal government, but they have seen profits skyrocket over the last half-century. From 2000 to 2012 alone, the price per pound of sugar rose from .42/lb to .69/lb. http://www.statista.com/statistics/192014/retail-price-for-granulated-sugar-in-the-us-from-2000/
In terms of corporate federal welfare, Sugar is definitely one of the “Queens”. “A GAO study found that, between 1989 and 1991, the sugar tax cost American consumers an average of $1.4 billion per year. By 1998, that number had risen to $1.9 billion,” wrote Jason Lee Steorts in an article for The National Review in 2005. ( reprint: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/sugar_industry_subsidies/)
So there is extra sting for American citizens knowing our federal government is practically complacent in assisting a corrupt industry they are instead supposed to be protecting us from. Those who argue for less federal regulation would be hard-pressed to convince Americans with sugar related heart-disease that less, not more, oversight is beneficial.
In total, the researchers at Harvard were paid $6500, which would be close to $50K in today’s dollars. A small sum compared to the billions seen by the Sugar Industry in raw profits. While we now know sugar is just as culpable as fat in fostering heart disease, it’s almost too late to scale back on sugar’s pervasiveness in the spectrum of processed foods available to all classes, but especially the lower classes who rarely have a choice in what they buy from grocers, restaurants, and fast food sources.
Sugar is still one of the biggest, if not THE biggest spender of lobbying money with the Federal Agricultural Department politicians. This is not likely to change, no matter how bad the press fallout from this historic report. While the Sugar Industry claims this to be water under the bridge in terms of effect, the information couldn’t be more relevant to today’s health problems in the United States.
Unfortunately, it opens a Pandora’s Box of questions about other aspects of our food industry. Where else has this happened? Who else in our Federal Government has been bought off, and at what cost to the health of our citizens who trust the government to both protect us from harm, and to steer us in the right direction when it comes to nutrition? Is there a correlation to recent hive collapse in honey-producing bee populations, seemingly poisoned by major chemical companies? After all, the last thing the Sugar Industry wants is for citizens to produce their own sugar substitute naturally.
Capitalism only works when regulated, and when those in power decide to place profit over safety, sweet Democracy is the ultimate loser.