A new article published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine reveals that recently uncovered internal documents from 1959 to 1971 show that the sugar industry successfully manipulated the research on dental decay conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The industry documents show that the NIH was directly influenced to focus on approaches to prevent tooth decay in American children without reducing sugar intake. This is probably a major reason why fluoridation propaganda replaced honest information on dental decay in US regulatory agencies. According to the study, the 319 documents included internal memos, correspondence, reports, and meeting minutes, and were from a time period when the NIDR was the primary source of federal funding for dental research and initiatives, including the promotion of fluoride and fluoridation. Authors found that “Seventy-eight percent of the sugar industry submissions were incorporated into the NIDR’s call for research applications. Research that could have been harmful to sugar industry interests was omitted.”
The article, entitled “Sugar Industry Influence on the Scientific Agenda of the National Institute of Dental Research’s 1971 National Caries Program: A Historical Analysis of Internal Documents,” was authored by a team of researchers from the University of California San Francisco. One of the authors, Stanton Glantz, PhD, is famous for his work revealing the lies of the tobacco industry regarding health effects, and said of this study:
“These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era. Our findings are a wake-up call for government officials charged with protecting the public health, as well as public health advocates, to understand that the sugar industry, like the tobacco industry, seeks to protect profits over public health. The sugar companies, in criticizing what we did, haven’t said we’ve said anything wrong or that we’ve misunderstood and misrepresented anything. They’re saying ‘Oh, this is a long time ago, what difference does it make,’ — and that’s exactly what the tobacco industry said.”
Glantz and his co-authors made the following conclusion in their article:
“This historical example illustrates how industry protects itself from potentially damaging research, which can inform policy makers today. While it may be valuable in theory for the industry to contribute data about their products to the research community, industry should not have the opportunity to influence public health research priorities . Regulatory science to support sensible and defensible policies to limit added sugar consumption was not pursued in the 1970s because of the alignment of the NIDR’s research priorities with those of the sugar industry. Actions taken by the sugar industry to impact the NIDR’s NCP research priorities, which echo those of the tobacco industry, should be a warning to the public health community. The sugar industry’s current position—that public health recommendations to reduce dental caries risk should focus on sugar harm reduction as opposed to sugar restrictions—is grounded in more than 60 years of protecting industry interests. Industry opposition to current policy proposals—including a WHO guideline on sugars proposed in 2014 and changes to the nutrition facts panel proposed in 2014 by the FDA—should be carefully scrutinized to ensure that industry interests do not supersede public health goals.” —See full study
- View the University of California San Francisco’s press release on the article.
- View additional commentary on the article in the PLOS Medicine Blog.
The connection between the sugar industry and fluoridation policy was also previously discussed in the book “The Case Against Fluoride” on pages 263-65:
“In 1949, one year before the U.S. Public Health Service endorsed fluoridation, the director of the Sugar Research Foundation, a lobby representing about 130 sugar interests, said that its research mission was ‘to find out how tooth decay could be controlled effectively without restriction of sugar intake.’ For the sugar lobby, fluoride—delivered through the water supply—quickly became the magic bullet to achieve that goal. From the earliest days of fluoridation, considerable sums of money were paid to prominent fluoride researchers at leading American universities.”
The PLOS Medicine article has received significant media coverage, including articles by: