Kelsey Blackwell's Blog

Why is the AHA in bed with the Corn Refiners Association?

I was disheartened to see a misleading study unlinking sugar consumption with heart disease and weight gain presented at the American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions. 

This is not the first time the AHA has seemed to support the sugar industry. In her book, Eating Between the Lines, (Griffin, 2007) Kimberly Lord Stewart asked the organization's certification program to defend why cereals with high sugar levels were allowed to carry the AHA seal.

The AHA responded with: "The FDA and American Heart Association are in agreement on the sugar issue. Although sugar has not been directly linked to heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends a diet moderate in added sugar as part of an overall eating plan for healthy individuals over the age of two."

Even if there isn't a link between sugar consumption and heart disease (and my research says there is) the fact that the AHA was paid for such endorsements certainly seems unethical.  

With the release of this latest research, funded by the Corn Refiners Association no less, the AHA appears to be in bed with big sugar again.   

While the scope of the research is not groundbreaking, the way the information is presented is worrisome. The first problem is that the study seems to suggest that HFCS and table sugar are metabolized in the body in the same way. This is simply not true.  

It's no secret that the CRA has launched an aggressive campaign to change consumer perceptions of HFCS. This research was clearly conducted to further that agenda.

Second and perhaps more egregious is that the findings seem to yell, "consuming added sugar does not cause weight gain," while only whispering, "if on a calorie-controlled diet." If this information were properly disclosed it would have little value to consumers—we already know it's overall calorie consumption, not the type of these calories, leads to weight gain.

While I'm not surprised that the CRA is trying to mislead the public, what does the AHA stand to gain by aligning with them?

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