Back in the day, cigarette companies denied that smoking caused cancer or was addictive, and targeted teenagers with their advertising. Similarly, Pepsi and Coke have funded studies claiming drinking diet soda is better than drinking water, and it was discovered that the sugar industry purposely manipulated scientific studies in order to increase sugar consumption and remain profitable.
Today, the Sugar Association and Corn Refiners Association still use scientists to advance their talking points. In the past, however, when they had published journal articles, they did not reveal that they funded the research. It is now believed that this is the reason why the FDA once reported “no conclusive evidence on sugars demonstrates a hazard to the general public when sugars are consumed at the levels that are now current.”
Beginning in 1943, the sugar industry paid researchers to exonerate sugar as the dominant cause of heart disease. They encouraged scientists to find a way to shift the blame on fats. Though it’s true that we should decrease consumption of saturated fats, sugar companies convinced the public that they should replace the fat with sugar. In the 1960s, the sugar industry began to fund its own literature review on sugars, fats and chronic heart disease in an obvious attempt to dispel the rumors that calories from sugar were at least part of the problem.
It is obvious that going forward, more transparency is needed. We are just now beginning to adequately address the association between added sugars and chronic disease.
According to a study published recently in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, on average, children in the U.S. consume 19 teaspoons of added sugar daily, mostly from sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, cakes and cookies.
Help keep your kiddos heart-healthy! The AHA has made three recommendations:
- Children over the age of two should consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar each day.
- Children should not drink more than one eight-ounce, sugar-sweetened beverage per week.
- Children under two should avoid consuming any added sugar since they need nutrient-rich diets and are developing taste preferences.
Parents are also advised to check food labels for added sugar in the form of fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, honey, lactose and sucrose. By July 2018, it will be required (finally!) to list added sugar amounts on food labels.
Lead author on the study, Miriam B. Vos, M.D., M.S.P.H., a nutrition scientist and associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, stated that, “Until then, the best way to avoid added sugars in your child’s diet is to serve mostly foods that are high in nutrition, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish.”
Those are dietary rules we should all follow. Keep things clean and simple, and the whole family will be happier and healthier!