How an Industry Got Us Hooked on Sugar: A Timeline

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As a reaction to wartime sugar rationing, the Sugar Research Foundation forms as an industry lobbyist organization.


The organization, now named the Sugar Association, distributes $3 million in research grants to study the healthfulness of sugar.


Coke and Pepsi introduce their first diet sodas, Tab and Patio. The sugar industry responds with a campaign to ban artificial sweeteners.


British physiologist John Yudkin releases studies proving that sugar elevates triglyceride levels, which can raise heart disease risks.


Senator George McGovern calls a Senate subcommittee hearing on sugar’s connection to diabetes and heart disease.


The Sugar Association hires a PR firm. The tagline for its ad campaign: “Sugar. It isn’t just good flavor; it’s good food.”


With sugar-lobby-supported nutritionists on its advisory board, a USDA report claims that “too much sugar does not cause diabetes.”


Citing 20 years of studies, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop says that dietary fat leads to heart disease and obesity.


The USDA’s Food Pyramid nearly eliminates fats and stresses sugary grains. Packaged low-fat foods often replace fat with twice the sugar.


The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that only 10 percent of calories should come from added sugar. Big Sugar threatens to cut WHO’s funding.


Global Energy Balance Network is established. Funded by Coca-Cola, it claims that lack of exercise, not diet, causes obesity.


WHO advises widespread taxes on sweetened drinks. Its president recommends consuming no sugar at all.