A new report by ABC this week suggests that major food companies, including PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, are prepared to pay scientists to help construct evidence refuting the link between poor health and junk food. The terms of the payments do not overtly require the scientists to fabricate study results; it’s more to poke holes in the scientific consensus. The funded research in addition to the lucrative speaking and consulting deals the scientists are offered are all in “an effort to confuse U.S. families about the health effects of popular food products.” The result: the paid scientists have been known to testify in favor of junk food in court and in front of Congress.
Yet all the while, more and more major long-term studies have conclusively demonstrated the link between poor health, weight gain, and junk food. Just this week the New England Journal of Medicine published a study out of Harvard University showing the foods that added the most to weight gain over a four-year period included daily consumption of potato chips, french fries, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. And as Dr. Walter Willet, chair of the Nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, told MSNBC “sugary beverages, namely sodas and sports drinks, were among the top contributors to weight gain.” But I suppose there are some scientists out there who will find a positive and healthy way to spin this research.
Is sugar slowly becoming the Big Tobacco of yesteryear? Will even more research continue come to out on the dangers of sugar while big industry continues to skirt around it – until one day the facts can no longer be denied. I can’t help but think of the character, Nick Naylor, the tobacco lobbyist, in this genius scene from Thank You For Smoking….