A new report shows that sugar industry influenced federal research priorities for tooth decay, which is still a big problem in the United States despite being preventable.
One of the solutions to the issue is a the reduction of sugar intake. The report published in the Journal PLOS Medicine says that the sugar industry influenced a research carried out in 1971 by the U.S. National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR), by shifting the focus away from dietary changes. The move had long-lasting consequences, according nutrition and dental experts.
After reviewing internal documents from the sugar industry in the 1959-1971 period, when the NIDR was trying to solve the problem of tooth decay interventions, the researchers found that an advisory council recommended that the focus should be concentrated on dietary changes. The result was the National Caries Program, which did not tell Americans to watch out for their sugar intake.
According to Time Magazine, the sugar trade organization and some of the government groups were making some behind-the-scenes deals.
In 1969, an NIDR set up a subcommittee called the Caries Task Force Steering Committee, who had the mission to come up with research priorities. At the same time, another group – the International Sugar Research Foundation (ISRF) – was trying to identify dental-health priorities. The new research shows that both groups were made up by the same people.
Later that year, the ISRF submitted its conclusions to the NIDR tooth decay task force. According to the authors of the PLOS Medicine report, 40% of the findings’ content was taken, almost word-for-word, from the sugar industry report.
Stanton A. Glantz, the author of the study, says that the sugar industry managed to derail some promising steps that would have been the cornerstone of the sugar in food regulation. Mr. Glantz, the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, added that the role of sugar in tooth decay was well-known at the time.
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, told Times that the 1977 U.S. dietary goals asked for a 40% reduction in sugar intake.
“Tooth decay is 100 percent preventable,” confirms Dr. Kevin Boyd, a dentist and an attending clinical instructor at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
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