When a dentist by the name of Cristin Couzens and colleague Gary Taubes published an article about the sugar industry called Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies, it called Big Sugar into account for using the same tactics tobacco companies used to get away with murder, literally, while they got paid.
The discovery by Couzens was essentially the proof in the pudding that many critics, health experts, medical professionals, and even normal citizens had suspected, but never knew the full extent of, until publication of the article in 2012. Internal documents laid out the ways in which the industry could con both the public and the American government, just as the tobacco industry had done.
While there is now a growing movement to expose the lies and the links between refined sugars and Type II diabetes, Big Sugar is determined to stick to their guns to this day, fighting diligently to deny or obscure that link using questionable tactics.
During 1976, the sugar industry found themselves in the precarious position of being seen as unhealthy, even dangerous, thanks to the FDA investigating their claims of sugar being beneficial for weight loss. The sugar industry was witnessing a sharp decline in consumption because of the public’s concern about getting diabetes, heart disease, and cardiovascular problems, among others. A concern that, as it turned out, was well-founded.
Through the sugar industry’s desperate attempt to change public perception, they tapped into the blueprints of Big Tobacco, which involved paying off scientists, funding studies that would reduce concerns about the diseases the FDA published warnings about. Those studies were designed to reach conclusions that minimized or denied negative results about sugar, and instead throw the blame for obesity and related diseases on fat.
Further lobbying provided enough momentum for the sugar industry to being marketing sugar as not just safe, but in fact healthy. Their efforts were rewarded in the form of the FDA’s seal of approval, deeming sugar to be “Generally Recognized As Safe” to the public.
Repeated Lies become Fact
It didn’t happen overnight, but as years passed, the sugar industry gradually neutralized their bad image and connections with deadly diseases. As they continued to lobby and publish papers that sugar was safe, they eventually got the blessings of more trusted organizations, such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. This led to a general disinterest in proving that sugar is connected to diseases and obesity. The research dollars dried up, and most scientists viewed it as a career-killer to go after the sugar industry. If this sounds familiar, that’s because the tobacco industry successfully achieved the same milestones in their heyday.
Fast-forward to the present day, and now sugar has been completely normalized. The industry has successfully branded things like “pure cane sugar” as a positive. The result means sugar intake is more than double what was considered safe by the FDA in the 80’s. These consumption habits directly translate into increased rates of the very health problems that were cited in the 70’s and before.
The lengths of what the sugar industry went through to achieve this level of saturation in the food industry and the science communities cannot be understated. It’s worth checking out Taubes and Couzens’ piece to get the full scope of their aggressive propaganda, fraud, and corruption.