Tooth Decay: Sugar Industry ‘Behaved like Tobacco Manufacturers

The sugar industry chose to ignore the charge that sugar was causing harm to public health.  When and why?  Read more below and thank you for visiting us at Cumberland Endodontics.

When the science first established that sugar was the damaging component in tooth decay – and when the sugar industry saw there was this unquestionable harm – its trade organizations ignored dentists’ calls for restricting intake, and instead deflected the debate elsewhere, influencing public health research in food producers’ favor.

Those are the allegations of researchers who have trawled a previously unexplored source of industry documents from the 60’s. The authors say their findings are a “historical example” of the industry’s self-interest “that can inform policy makers today” over opposition to current sugar policy proposals.

Having noted that, in the case of the tobacco industry, reviews of historical internal documents were “key to informing policy and litigation successes in tobacco control,” the authors set to work on an archive of 319 internal sugar industry documents created mostly in the 1960s. Known as the Roger Adams papers, the archive “relates” to the World Sugar Research Organisation (WSRO), a trade body that, then and now, represents the cane and beet sugar industry. One of its members, then the International Sugar Research Foundation, was where Roger Adams sat on a scientific advisory board from 1959 until his death in 1971. That US body has now “evolved,” as the authors put it, into The Sugar Association.

The Adams archive documents suggest that the industry, simply put, decided to focus on ways to reduce sugar’s harms instead of answer the scientific charge that the damage to teeth was so clear and direct that the best way to reduce it was to restrict the addition of sugars to foods.