coca-cola bottle on grey pavement

Big Sugar’s Efforts to Influence Scientific Research

Unveiling Hidden Tactics” is a compelling article that unveils the sugar industry’s covert efforts to influence scientific research. The piece delves into internal documents that reveal the industry’s alarm over health-conscious trends negatively impacting their business. It exposes how Big Sugar has systematically attempted to downplay the health risks associated with sugar consumption, particularly in relation to dental health and heart disease. The article uncovers the industry’s strategy to skew research findings and the hidden conflicts of interest that undermine the integrity of scientific studies. The author emphatically argues for the necessity of eliminating corporate interference in research, stressing that true change will only occur when public health researchers stop accepting funding from the ultra-processed food industry. This eye-opening narrative not only highlights the extensive influence of corporate power in scientific research but also underscores the critical need for independent and unbiased research to safeguard public health.

Corporate Manipulation of Research

Big Sugar’s efforts to manipulate scientific research

Corporations are legally required to maximize shareholder profits, which often leads them to oppose public health policies that could threaten their profits. In the case of the sugar industry, there is overwhelming evidence that they have worked systematically to subvert the scientific process. Internal documents have revealed that Big Sugar was concerned about the rise of health food “faddists” and the spread of misinformation about the negative effects of sugar on health.

Concerns about public health policies

The sugar industry’s manipulation of research is driven by their vested interests in protecting their profits. They oppose public health policies that aim to reduce sugar consumption and improve public health. By undermining the scientific evidence and spreading misinformation, they create confusion and doubt among the general public, making it harder for effective policies to be implemented.

Evidence of subverting the scientific process

The sugar industry has been found to manipulate research in various ways. They have tried to influence the direction of dental research, as well as research on heart disease. They have funded studies and reviews that downplay the risks of sugar and discredit its role in the development of chronic diseases. By concealing their funding and manipulating scientific findings, they have been able to create doubt and maintain their position in the market.

Big Sugar


Sugar Industry vs Health Food “Faddists”


Sugar industry’s concern about health food movement

The rise of the health food movement posed a threat to the sugar industry’s profits. As more people became aware of the potential harms of sugar consumption and started seeking healthier alternatives, the sugar industry saw its market share decline. In response, they launched efforts to discredit the health food movement and protect their own interests.

Misinformation broadcasted by propagandists

The sugar industry employed propaganda tactics to spread misinformation about sugar and undermine the credibility of health food advocates. By framing sugar as a non-essential food, they aimed to downplay its risks and convince the public that it was safe to consume in large quantities. This misinformation campaign helped to shape public opinion and maintain high levels of sugar consumption.

Debunking the claim that sugar is a non-essential food

Contrary to the sugar industry’s claims, sugar is not a non-essential food. Numerous scientific studies have linked excessive sugar consumption to various health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dental cavities. It is essential for public health policies to address the risks associated with sugar and encourage reduced consumption for the overall well-being of individuals and society.


Big Sugar


Manipulation of Dental and Heart Disease Research

Influencing dental research direction

The sugar industry has a long history of trying to influence dental research to downplay the role of sugar in dental cavities. By funding studies and having a say in research direction, they have attempted to divert attention away from sugar as a primary cause of dental problems. This manipulation of research has had serious consequences for public health, as dental cavities continue to be a major health issue, especially among children.

Influencing research on heart disease

Similarly, the sugar industry has invested in influencing research on heart disease. By funding studies and reviews that downplay the risks of sugar consumption, they have sowed confusion among both researchers and the general public. This deliberate manipulation of scientific evidence has hindered efforts to accurately understand the role of sugar in heart disease and implement effective preventive measures.

Downplaying the risk from sugar

The sugar industry has consistently downplayed the risks of consuming excessive amounts of sugar. They have funded studies that highlight other factors as primary contributors to heart disease, such as saturated fat, while minimizing the role of sugar. This deliberate misrepresentation of scientific evidence has not only misled the public but has also impeded public health policies aiming to reduce sugar consumption and improve cardiovascular health.


Big Sugar


Support from Meat and Dairy Industries

Sponsorship of anti-sugar message

The meat and dairy industries, which have their own vested interests in maintaining high levels of consumption, have been supportive of the anti-sugar message. They saw an opportunity to divert attention away from the health risks associated with their own products by promoting the idea that sugar was the main culprit for health problems. By supporting anti-sugar campaigns and research, these industries aimed to protect their own profits and shift the blame onto sugar consumption.

Acknowledgements in John Yudkin’s book

John Yudkin, a prominent nutritionist, wrote the book “Pure, White and Deadly” in the 1970s, highlighting the risks of sugar consumption. In the acknowledgments section of his book, Yudkin thanked all the food and drug companies that had provided him with constant generous support. This acknowledgment sheds light on the financial support he received from industries with conflicting interests, potentially influencing his research and views on sugar.

Funding Yudkin’s speaking tour

The egg industry, in an attempt to divert attention from the role of cholesterol in heart disease, sponsored John Yudkin’s speaking tour. By supporting Yudkin, who had been vocal about the risks of excessive sugar consumption, the egg industry aimed to shift the blame onto sugar and downplay the importance of cholesterol in heart disease. This sponsorship highlights the influence that industry funding can have on scientific discourse and public perception.

Pure, White and Deadly
John Yudkin’s book : Pure, White and Deadly

Industry-Driven Firing of Scientists

Hegsted’s recommendations and firing

One example of industry-driven firing is the case of Mark Hegsted, a co-author of a review funded by the sugar industry. Despite his recommendation to reduce sugar consumption along with other risk factors, Hegsted was fired by the beef industry for speaking out against their products. This case demonstrates the power of industry influence on scientific research and the consequences faced by scientists who go against their interests.

The sugar industry’s concealment of funding

The sugar industry was able to conceal its funding of research by exploiting the lack of disclosure requirements. The failure to disclose conflicts of interest until many years later allowed the sugar industry to manipulate research outcomes without scrutiny. This lack of transparency enabled them to shape scientific narratives in their favor and deceive both the scientific community and the general public.

Importance of disclosing conflicts of interest

The concealment of funding and conflicts of interest hampers the scientific process and undermines the credibility of research. It is crucial for researchers and institutions to disclose any financial ties to industries with vested interests. Transparency in disclosing conflicts of interest allows for a more accurate evaluation of research findings and helps to maintain the integrity of the scientific community.


Big Sugar


Eliminating Conflicts of Interest

Refusing money from ultraprocessed food industry

To ensure the credibility and integrity of public health research, it is necessary for researchers to refuse funding from the ultraprocessed food industry. Just as the success of banning tobacco-industry funding has led to more objective research in tobacco control, refusing money from industries with conflicting interests is crucial in advancing public health research and policies.

Success in banning tobacco-industry funding

The success in banning tobacco-industry funding for research on tobacco control serves as an example of how eliminating conflicts of interest can lead to more objective and unbiased research. The recognition of the harmful effects of tobacco and the need for effective public health interventions was only possible by removing the influence of the industry from research and policy-making.

Importance of change in public health research

The influence of corporate funding and conflicts of interest on public health research should not be underestimated. It is imperative for research institutions, funding bodies, and researchers themselves to prioritize the elimination of conflicts of interest to ensure the credibility, transparency, and objectivity of research findings. Only through unbiased research can effective public health policies be developed and implemented.


Lack of Objectivity in Industry-Funded Research

Bias in outcomes of industry-funded research

Numerous studies have shown that industry-funded research is more likely to produce outcomes that favor the funders. This bias is a result of the financial interests at stake and the influence that industry funding can have on the design, implementation, and interpretation of research studies. This lack of objectivity undermines the credibility of industry-funded research and raises concerns about the reliability and validity of its findings.

Correlation between funding and favorable outcomes

The correlation between industry funding and favorable research outcomes cannot be ignored. Studies have consistently shown that research funded by industries with vested interests is more likely to produce findings that align with their agenda. This correlation raises doubts about the objectivity and independence of industry-funded research and reinforces the need to critically evaluate and scrutinize such studies.

The influence of corporate cash on objectivity

The influx of corporate cash into scientific research has a significant impact on objectivity and impartiality. Financial incentives and the potential for further funding play a crucial role in shaping research agendas and influencing the interpretation of results. The influence of corporate cash on objectivity highlights the importance of transparent funding sources and the need to minimize conflicts of interest to ensure the integrity and credibility of scientific research.

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The Coca-Cola and Pediatric Dentistry Case

The grant from Coca-Cola

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry accepted a million-dollar grant from Coca-Cola, a major player in the sugar-sweetened beverage industry. This grant raised concerns about the impartiality and integrity of the organization’s stance on sugar consumption and its impact on dental health. The financial support from a company with vested interests in promoting sugary beverages raises questions about the potential influence of the grant on the organization’s official positions.

Change in official positions

After receiving the grant from Coca-Cola, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry changed its official position on the role of sugars, particularly in beverages, in dental caries. The organization went from acknowledging the significant role of frequent consumption of sugars in the initiation and progression of dental cavities to emphasizing uncertainty in the scientific evidence. This change in official positions raises concerns about the impact of financial support on scientific views and calls into question the credibility of the organization’s stance on sugar and dental health.


Big Sugar
Big Sugar


The impact of financial support on scientific views

The case of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry highlights the potential impact of financial support on scientific views. The grant from Coca-Cola influenced the organization’s official position, leading to a less clear stance on the role of sugars in dental caries. This demonstrates how financial support from industries can shape scientific discourse and undermine the credibility of research and public health policies.


In conclusion, the corporate manipulation of research, especially by the sugar industry, poses a significant threat to public health. The efforts to subvert the scientific process, spread misinformation, and influence research outcomes highlight the need for transparency, objectivity, and the elimination of conflicts of interest in public health research. It is essential for researchers, institutions, and funding bodies to prioritize the integrity of research and the protection of public health over corporate interests. Only through unbiased research and evidence-based policies can we effectively address the health implications of industries that prioritize profits over the well-being of the population.