Sugar is in the news in a
big obese way. Are tobacco and sugar similar? On the surface, perhaps not that much. However, science shows that both are extremely harmful to our health, shorten our lives, and both have been sold to us by industries claiming that they are not unhealthy.
We all know that smoking and tobacco are bad for us, and that a lot of scientific studies have shown how and why tobacco is harmful. However, not too recently, tobacco companies used many tactics to silence the science showing how deadly their products were in order to maintain profits. However, following the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), it became public knowledge that the companies were actually knowingly selling a harmful product. AND advertising it to children and teenagers.
Fast forward about 15 years to today, and it seems that we are seeing a similar situation, but this time with industries that have an interest in selling sugar. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a summary of how sugar interests are undermining science that clearly shows the harmfulness of sugar (Also see the report, Added Sugar, Subtracted Science (2014)).
A major factor that has kept us in the dark about sugar’s detrimental impacts is the role that industry has played in keeping it that way. Sugar interests—food and beverage manufacturers along with industry-supported organizations such as trade associations, front groups, and public relations firms—have actively sought to ensure Americans’ consumption of high levels of sugar continues.
The summary gives a list and explanation of how sugar interests are undermining the science.
1. Attacking the science
2. Spreading misinformation
3. Deploying industry scientists
4. Influencing academia
5. Undermining policy
Sounds really similar to the methods that tobacco companies used to undermine science, right?
This is all driven home by a new study showing that obesity has a huge impact on our life expectancy (published in PLOS Medicine). So much so, that obesity is as bad, or worse, for us than smoking (see below). And don’t forget, a huge part of the obesity epidemic involves high intake of sugar, and that sugar is a major contributor to diabetes.
Class III obesity is associated with substantially elevated rates of total mortality, with most of the excess deaths due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and major reductions in life expectancy compared with normal weight.
We found that the reduction in life expectancy associated with class III obesity was similar to (and, for BMI values above 50 kg/m2, even greater than) that observed for current smoking.
Read the full summary by the Union of Concerned Scientists for more information on how we are slowly succeeding at beating out the sugar interests, just like we did for tobacco. Science will prevail!