Sugar and Heart Disease Link

Scientists have come full circle in the last 60 years about the connection between sugar and heart disease risk. The link was uncovered at that time, however it was not disclosed, and now the link between the two is known.

According to new historical analysis published this month in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, it claims that the sugar industry sponsored research that cast doubt about sugar’s health risks associated with heart disease and instead promoted fat as the “dietary culprit” and didn’t disclose it.

The question remains, why? Why would researchers essentially sit on these findings and promote another culprit in heart disease? It appears to be due to monetary gain – it’s plain and simple. The research was funded by the sugar industry.

The sugar industry group, then called the Sugar Research Foundation, bankrolled the early research on fat as the primary risk factor for heart disease rather than blame sugar as a risk factor. The group, now called the Sugar Association, questions the new findings of the 60-year old research.

To understand how this transpired, it is important to know who the group is. It was founded in 1943 by members of the American sugar industry and was dedicated to the scientific study of sugar’s role in food and communicating it to the public.

One could conclude that had not this research taken place, then American’s health – heart health in particular, would be much different. To understand the role sugar plays in heart disease would potentially impact the current rates of obesity and heart disease. Perhaps knowing more information and correct information at the time would have guided the U.S. in a different direction and rates would be lower for obesity and heart disease.

Heart disease remains to lead all other causes of death. Nearly 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the U.S., which totals about one in every four deaths. Good news is that the latest U.S. dietary guidelines put a limit on sugar for the first time ever. And, the American Heart Association issued new recommendations for children 2 to 18 years old, to consume no more than about 6 teaspoons of added sugars in their daily diets.

Things are looking up, albeit a little late, as I always say – better late than never! The fact the dietary recommendations are changing to help improve heart heath, obesity rates and mortality rates is going to help save many, many lives.