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It wasn’t until this year, for instance, that the US Dietary Guidelines finally recommended people reduce their consumption of added sugars — decades after health advocates began pressing for the measure. The sugar lobby had fended off this recommendation all the while.

New research, published today in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that the sugar industry may have done more than just advocate for favorable policies. Going back more than 50 years, the industry has been distorting scientific research by dictating what questions get asked about sugar, particularly questions around sugar’s role in coronary heart disease.

The paper focuses on a debate that first popped up in the 1950s, when the rate of heart disease started to shoot up in the United States. Scientists began searching for answers, and zeroed in on dietary fat as the leading contributor. (The energy we get from food comes in three kinds of nutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and protein.)

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Image: By Parvathisri – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17940441

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