Sugar industry manipulated heart studies, review finds

(NBC News/Maggie Fox) — A sugar industry group paid for studies that underplayed the role that added sugars play in heart disease, researchers reported Monday.

Studies paid for by the lobbying group helped set the U.S. on a policy course that focused almost exclusively on fat as the main cause of heart disease, leaving out the considerable role that sugary foods play, the researchers said.

They compare the sugar industry's approach to tactics used by the tobacco industry to shed doubt on research showing tobacco causes cancer and heart disease.

And this kind of practice still goes on today, experts said in a pair of papers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine.

"These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era," said Stanton Glantz of the University of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Cristin Kearns, a University of California San Francisco researcher who is focusing on the sugar industry, made the discovery when she found a collection of papers at the University of Illinois library from the estate of Roger Adams, a chemistry professor who was a scientific adviser for the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF)—now the Sugar Association. Kearns and colleagues also found papers from Harvard professor Mark Hegsted, who directed Sugar Research Foundation studies.

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