Mystery Behind Dietary Guidelines Of The Last 50 Years.

September 25, 2016



Unless you work in the medical field you probably missed the latest news about the origin of American Dietary Guidelines.


According to a recently published report in JAMA Internal Medicine, the Sugar Association paid for an influential literary review, published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, which downplayed the dietary sugar link to coronary heart disease, while pointing the finger at fat and cholesterol intake.  This review was the main foundation for our dietary guidelines for generations. (Kearns CE, et al. Sugar industry and coronary heart disease research: A historical analysis of internal industry documents. JAMA Intern Med 2016:DOI:10.1001).


This article served as the lobbying tool for the sugar industry for almost 50 years ago and influenced dietary guidelines since the 1980s.


Researchers recognized in the mid-1950s that there was plenty of evidence about the adverse health effects of sugar.  They knew that sugar was associated with an increase in triglycerides, which has direct effect on heart disease.  If the American public was made aware of this fact, the sale of sweet products, especially with high fructose corn syrup would have plummeted.


So they decided to convince the population to fight a different villain: fat, since it was associated with a rise in cholesterol, which was thought to cause heart disease.  By focusing on the danger of fat and minimizing the dangerous effects of sugar, the Sugar Association wanted to preserve their profits.  They paid a pittance of only $48,900 in 2016 dollars to well-respected Harvard researchers to write an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, where they discounted and downplayed the evidence linking sugar to triglycerides and heart disease and emphasized the evidence linking fat intake to elevated cholesterol and heart disease.  The authors also destroyed all other papers that recommended decreased intake of sugar.


As a result of this dishonest and biased study, our guidelines since the 1980s were wrongly focused on limiting fat intake vs. the decrease of sugar.  And now we are paying the price, with increased rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and heart disease.  There is a clear correlation between obesity and the change in per capita soda availability since 1962.  This includes the consumption of both artificially sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages.


What about artificial sweeteners?  University of Sydney researchers have confirmed widespread bias in industry–funded research into artificial sweeteners, which is misleading the public by overstating their health benefits.  This new comprehensive review of artificial sweetener studies reveals that reviews funded by artificial sweetener companies were nearly 17 times more likely to have favorable results. (Artificial sweeteners hit sour note with sketchy science. The University of Sydney News.16 September 2016).


Neuroscientists from Purdue University examined 24 prospective cohort studies of artificially sweetened beverages and health outcomes.  The risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease almost doubled with consumption of artificially sweetened beverages.  Of note, risks for these conditions also increased to a similar degree from consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. (Swithers SE. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013;24:431-441).


Another study suggested that pregnant women, who use low calorie sweeteners incur multiple complications, including premature delivery. (La Vecchia C. Low-calorie sweeteners and the risk of preterm delivery: results from two studies and a meta-analysis. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2013;39:12-13.).


Let's change our approach to health:

  • drink water, instead of sugary and artificially sweetened drinks

  • limit our intake of sugar and easy digestible carbohydrates

  • avoid saturated fat and transfats

  • enjoy healthy fats, like fish, olive oil, avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds

  • stay active and exercise

  • get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night

  • never forget to laugh, enjoy your life and have time to relax.

For more detailed advice on healthy living, please make an appointment with Dr. Koganski, 215-750-7000,

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