On Dec. 19, a systematic review was published in The Annals of Internal Medicine that discredited warnings against eating less sugar, saying the claim is based on untrustworthy recommendations.
However, the study was criticized by health experts for several reasons, including funding from globally recognized companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, and Monsanto, The New York Times reported.
Despite warnings from the World Health Organization to reduce sugar intake, the review concludes:
“Guidelines on dietary sugar do not meet criteria for trustworthy recommendations and are based on low-quality evidence. Public health officials (when promulgating these recommendations) and their public audience (when considering dietary behavior) should be aware of these limitations.”
It is not the first time leaders in the food and sugar industries have tried to shape consumer perception for the benefit of their industry. For example, Coca-Cola funded a study that concluded that low-sugar drinks can reduce body weight.
“This comes right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook: cast doubt on the science,” Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University who studies conflicts of interest in nutrition research, told the Times. “This is a classic example of how industry funding biases opinion. It’s shameful.”
Dr. Christine Laine, editor in chief of The Annals of Internal Medicine, told the Times that the review was published based on the research quality rather than who funded it.
“We thought that this was something that our readers would be interested in, and we thought the methods of the systematic review were high quality,” Laine said. “We decided to go ahead and publish it despite the fact that we’re completely aware that the funding source has a relationship with the food and beverage industry.”