Well Being

Surprise, Surprise: Sugar Lobby Funded Study Says Sugar Is Safe

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A recent study shows no apparent correlation between the consumption of sweets and other important health markers.

5,000 Americans were asked about their sugar consumption habits, and then statistically evaluated with respect to common health tests. Along a number of dimensions – including weight, cardiovascular disease risk, blood pressure, blood lipids, and insulin resistance – the most frequent sweets-eaters (more than every other day) fared no worse than those who indulged once per week or less.

Take that all with a great big grain of sugar salt, though. The study was funded by the National Confectioners Association, a large and well-established group that supports research and educational programs… while being based in Washington, D.C. so as to best conduct its lobbying activities.

That doesn't mean that the research was necessarily conducted poorly, or that its conclusions are necessarily wrong. But it does constitute reason for casting a suspicious eye on the whole thing. Until experts – independent, unbiased experts – in nutrition and statistics and epidemiology can review this study, we should probably just proceed as usual: on the well-established belief that sugar isn't great for you and its intake ought to be minimized.

Perhaps most importantly, 96% of the participants reported eating sweets sometimes, in general. If sugar really is as bad for you as we've been hearing recently, even consuming sweets only once per week might have significant ill effects. And these effects would not be expected to show up in this study, as almost all participants did eat sweets. The study would have needed a control group, of total sugar abstainers, to show whether even reduced and infrequent sugar consumption is detrimental to human health, or whether sugar is safe.

Image: Shutterstock

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