Summary of Was There Ever Really a “Sugar Conspiracy”?

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Was There Ever Really a “Sugar Conspiracy”? summary
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The debate over the harmful effects of dietary fat, cholesterol and sugar dates back to the 1960s. The term “sugar conspiracy” caught fire when a Harvard review debunking sugar’s role in the explosion of coronary heart disease and obesity in the United States was revealed to be secretly funded by the sugar industry. However, many powerful food producers have backed influential nutritional studies since World War II. People who distrust the process and purpose of large nutritional studies, and question their results, may want to read this.

About the Authors

Gerald M. Oppenheimer is a historian of public health at City University of New York’s School of Public Health. David Merritt Johns is a doctoral student at the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University.



Powerful industries such as petroleum, tobacco and food production use their resources to avoid negative product reviews and onerous regulations.

Recent allegations suggest that in the 1960s, research secretly backed by sugar producers damaged US nutrition policies and contributed to the obesity and heart disease epidemics. However, in some cases “conspiratorial narratives in science” cause historians to twist facts to fit their theories.

The term “sugar conspiracy” is based on a scientific debate which began in the 1960s about the impact of unhealthy fats and excess...

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