Study Questions Sugar Limits, but There's a Big Catch

Guess who funded it?
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2016 12:00 PM CST
Study Questions Sugar Limits, but There's a Big Catch
Soft drink and soda bottles are seen in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A new study about sugar is good news for companies that make sugar-laden products. The problem is that the study itself was funded by those very same companies. As Time reports, the research newly published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looks specifically at guidelines, including those in the US, advising people to limit added sugars to less than 10% of their daily calories. That's about the equivalent of a large soda. The researchers concluded that those guidelines are "not trustworthy" and "based on low-quality evidence." Study author Bradley Johnston also accuses scientists of using sugar as "the scapegoat for the rise in obesity and diabetes" when "it's one factor among many," per NPR. The review was funded by the International Life Science Institute, whose board members include reps from McDonald's, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, and Hershey.

That's a major red flag, says a nutrition professor at New York University, who calls the study a "shameful" move by food and beverage companies "right out of the tobacco industry's playbook," per Reuters. The journal AIM was clearly aware such criticism would be coming and took the unusual approach of running an opposing editorial in the same issue by Dr. Dean Schillinger of the University of California, whose research last month found that studies funded by the industry generally seemed to dispute any link between sugar and health problems. "Policymakers, when confronted with claims that sugar guidelines are based on 'junk science,' should consider whether 'junk food' was the [funding] source." (Documents suggest the sugar industry has been trying to shape health studies since the 1960s.)

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