Conflicting food studies leaving you confused? Don’t know whether a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet is healthier? Can’t figure out if processed foods are as nutritious as fresh produce? You are not alone. Giants of the food industry have long been using marketing techniques to influence our dietary choices. And finally we have concrete proof that the American sugar lobby paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease while promoting saturated fat as the culprit instead. Recently discovered internal sugar industry documents show that a trade group called Sugar Research Foundation – known today as The Sugar Association – paid three Harvard scientists to publish a handpicked 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
This kind of influence peddling continues till date, albeit in a more sophisticated form. There’s much literature on how the food industry has influenced governments’ nutritional guidelines to ensure that their coffers and consumers’ waistlines keep expanding. Then there’s the food industry’s weapon of mass destruction – children. By directly targeting kids, food companies have masterfully leveraged their nagging potency to get their parents to increasingly spend on junk foods. After all, sugary foods for children can be as addictive as drugs.
There’s much reason to surmise that growing cases of childhood obesity and increasing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are due to an environment where food companies have manipulated food research. Going forward, such food studies should compulsorily disclose their sources of funding. This bring us to the question – what should people actually be eating for a healthy diet? Unfortunately, this too can be quite confusing. At a time when air, water and soil have been polluted, nothing looks truly ‘safe’ for consumption. Didn’t a sage of the modern era advise us, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish”?