How the Sugar Industry Blocks Health Research: A Thirty Year Scandal

The Case Against Sugar

Gary Taubes (2017)

Taubes is an investigative journalist whose main focus is the deplorable state of public health research in the US.

During the 1990s, Taubes cut his teeth debunking the shoddy studies leading to public health recommendations that salt in the diet leads to high blood pressure and heart disease (which turn out to be totally groundless). He followed this with a series of exposes on the biased studies erroneously linking saturated (animal) fat to obesity, heart disease and cancer. These studies, and the infamous “low fat diet” western doctors have been pushing for nearly fifty years have been a major culprit in our current global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer and tooth decay (see The Role of Western Medicine in the Epidemic of Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Tooth Decay).

His most recent book, The Case Against Sugar, focuses on a successful 30-year effort by the sugar industry to shut down independent research into sugar as a major causative agent in these chronic illnesses.

He maintains a big part of the problem was the demise of German and Austrian research into obesity after World War II. This European research, informed by the developing fields of genetics, metabolism and endocrinology, supported a hormonal regulatory defect as the primary cause of obesity. Lacking this background in genetics, metabolism and endocrinology, US researchers were blinded by their puritanical bias that lack of willpower causes obesity. With the discovery of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance (both aggravated by high sugar and carbohydrate diets), it turns out the European researchers had it right all along

For me, the most interesting part of this talk is Taubes’ discussion of sugar’s role as an addictive drug. I had no idea the tobacco industry began adding sugar to their cigarettes in 1954 to make them more addictive. I also like the point he makes about sugar, along with rum, chocolate and tobacco, being important New World discoveries to cheaply dull the pain of oppressed workers under industrial capitalism.