Thursday 22nd of August 2019

advocacy-led pseudo-scientific health studies to promote sugarcrap...

coated sugar

An institute whose experts have occupied key positions on EU and UN regulatory panels is, in reality, an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity, according to a peer-reviewed study.

The Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) describes its mission as “pursuing objectivity, clarity and reproducibility” to “benefit the public good”.

But researchers from the University of Cambridge, Bocconi University in Milan, and the US Right to Know campaign assessed over 17,000 pages of documents under US freedom of information laws to present evidence of influence-peddling.

The paper’s lead author, Dr Sarah Steele, a Cambridge university senior research associate, said: “Our findings add to the evidence that this nonprofit organisation has been used by its corporate backers for years to counter public health policies. ILSI should be regarded as an industry group – a private body – and regulated as such, not as a body acting for the greater good.”

In a 2015 email copied to ILSI’s then director, Suzanne Harris, and executives from firms such as Coca-Cola and Monsanto, ILSI’s founder Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola vice-president, complained bitterly about new US dietary guidelines for reducing sugar intake.

“These guidelines are a real disaster!” he wrote. “They could eventually affect us significantly in many ways; Soft drink taxations, modified school luncheon programs, a strong educational effort to educate children and adults to significanty [sic] limit their sugar intake,, curtail advertising of sugary foods and beverages and eventually a great pressure from CDC [the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention] and other agencies to force industry to start deducing [sic] drastically the sugar we add to processed foods and beverages.”

Malaspina – whom Coca-Cola describes as a “longtime scientific and regulatory affairs leader” – said he expected many nations to follow the new guidelines, adding: “We have to consider how to become ready to mount a strong defence.”

According to ILSI’s declared mandatory principles, it “may not directly or indirectly propose public policy solutions or advocate the commercial interests of their member companies or other parties”.

Kristin DiNicolantonio, ILSI Global’s communication director, told the Guardian that “under no circumstance does ILSI protect industry from being affected by disadvantageous policy and laws”.

The study, published on Monday in the journal Globalization and Health, found that when ILSI’s regional offices failed to promote industry-friendly messaging, they were subjected to sanctions.

In another email from 2015, Malaspina wrote: “About the mess ILSI Mexico is in because they sponsored in September a sweeteners conference when the subject of soft drinks taxation was discussed. ILSI is now suspending ILSI Mexico, until they correct their ways. A real mess.”

Malaspina added that “I hope we have now reached bottom [sic] and eventually we will recover as [far as] Coke and ILSI are concerned.”

ILSI says its Mexican affiliate was suspended for “engaging in activities that can be construed to be policy advocacy”.

Around this time, ILSI was caught up in a separate controversy, when the Guardian revealed that ILSI Europe’s vice-president Prof Alan Boobis chaired a UN panel that found glyphosate was probably not carcinogenic to humans.

The final panel report included no conflict of interest statements, even though ILSI Europe had received donations of $500,000 (£344,234) fromMonsanto, which uses glyphosate in its RoundUp weedkiller, and $528,500 from its industry representative, Croplife International.

Corporate figures from companies including Monsanto, Kraft and Nestlé have sat on ILSI’s board, although DiNicolantonio said they did so “in an individual capacity”.

In 2012, the European parliament suspended funding to the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) for six months over a string of conflicts of interest allegations involving ILSI members on its own board. A separate parliamentary inquiry into the group in 2017 contributed to new EU transparency rules.

The food group Mars last year announced that it would break its ties with ILSI, whose work it described as “advocacy-led”.

But former and current ILSI officials continue to play key roles in the EU’s science advisory mechanism, which recently produced a report that recommends a slew of industry positions on pesticides. These would, for example, replace current rules outlawing any products that could harm human health with a US-style concept of “acceptable risk”.

A similar Efsa approach, the Threshold for Toxicological Concern published earlier this year, emerged from a working group in which the majority of experts had formal links to ILSI, according to the Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN-E). The new threshold would allow “safe levels of exposure” for many chemicals which have not been fully tested for toxicity.

PAN-E alleges that eight of the 12 EU pesticides risk assessments that it studied had their regulatory use “designed and/or promoted” by the industry.

Over the course of 2015, a World Health Organization (WHO) move to distance itself from ILSI due to links between one of its members and the tobacco industryprovoked a degree of internal anxiety in ILSI, according to the new study.

One email exchange between the University of Washington’s Prof Adam Drewnowski and Malaspina led to suggestions of a direct approach to the WHO director, Margaret Chan.

Drewnowski wrote that Chan had “said that she was ready to be ‘at the table – but not in bed – with industry’ (her own phrase). Since then, her position has hardened considerably. We should remind her of her own phrase and get her to the table.”

Malaspina later sent an email to senior ILSI and Coca-Cola officials, saying: “We must find a way of someone such as a famous scientist arrange to pay her [Chan] a visit. Jim Hill or someone of similar stature or a US government scientist.”


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"we consume way too much added sugar"...

In the American diet, the top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. But added sugar is also present in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.

The result: we consume way too much added sugar. Adult men take in an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the National Cancer Institute. That's equal to 384 calories.

"Excess sugar's impact on obesity and diabetes is well documented, but one area that may surprise many men is how their taste for sugar can have a serious impact on their heart health," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Impact on your heart

In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.

"Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease," says Dr. Hu.

How sugar actually affects heart health is not completely understood, but it appears to have several indirect connections. For instance, high amounts of sugar overload the liver. "Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat," says Dr. Hu. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.

Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease. Excess consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages, also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods. This is why it is easier for people to add more calories to their regular diet when consuming sugary beverages.

"The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke," says Dr. Hu.

How much is okay?

If 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day is too much, then what is the right amount? It's hard to say, since sugar is not a required nutrient in your diet. The Institute of Medicine, which sets Recommended Dietary Allowances, or RDAs, has not issued a formal number for sugar.

However, the American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) of added sugar per day. That is close to the amount in a 12-ounce can of soda.

Subtracting added sugar

Reading food labels is one of the best ways to monitor your intake of added sugar. Look for the following names for added sugar and try to either avoid, or cut back on the amount or frequency of the foods where they are found:

  • brown sugar

  • corn sweetener

  • corn syrup

  • fruit juice concentrates

  • high-fructose corn syrup

  • honey

  • invert sugar

  • malt sugar

  • molasses

  • syrup sugar molecules ending in "ose" (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).

Total sugar, which includes added sugar, is often listed in grams. Note the number of grams of sugar per serving as well as the total number of servings. "It might only say 5 grams of sugar per serving, but if the normal amount is three or four servings, you can easily consume 20 grams of sugar and thus a lot of added sugar," says Dr. Hu.

Also, keep track of sugar you add to your food or beverages. About half of added sugar comes from beverages, including coffee and tea. A study in the May 2017 Public Healthfound that about two-thirds of coffee drinkers and one-third of tea drinkers put sugar or sugary flavorings in their drinks. The researchers also noted that more than 60% of the calories in their beverages came from added sugar.

Yet, Dr. Hu warms against being overzealous in your attempts to cut back on added sugar, as this can backfire. "You may find yourself reaching for other foods to satisfy your sweet cravings, like refined starches, such as white bread and white rice, which can increase glucose levels, and comfort foods high in saturated fat and sodium, which also cause problems with heart health," he says.


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"Eat less, shit more" is Mama Gus motto...

sugars and cancer...


In a context where the World Health Organization is questioning the level of evidence of the scientific data supporting the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks, the results of this observational study based on a large prospective cohort suggest that a higher consumption of sugary drinks is associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. Of note, 100% fruit juices were also associated with the risk of overall cancer in this study. If these results are replicated in further large-scale prospective studies and supported by mechanistic experimental data, and given the large consumption of sugary drinks in Western countries, these beverages would represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention, beyond their well established impact on cardiometabolic health. These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice,1287 as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence.8889

What is already known on this topic
  • The consumption of sugary drinks has increased worldwide during the last decades

  • Sugary drinks are convincingly associated with the risk of obesity, which is a strong risk factor for many cancers 

What this study adds
  • The consumption of sugary drinks (including 100% fruit juice) was associated with an increased risk of overall cancer and breast cancer 

  • In specific subanalyses, the consumption of 100% fruit juices were also associated with an increased risk of overall cancers 

  • The consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with a risk of cancer, but statistical power was probably limited owing to a relatively low consumption in this sample


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