The sugar industry has long played down the potential damage

A spokesperson for the Sugar Association said the group looked at its research records and determined that Dr Pover’s study ended because it was delayed, over budget and straddled a organizational restructuring.

“It was planned to continue the study with funding from the British Nutrition Foundation,” the statement said, “but for reasons unknown to us this did not happen.”

But Marion Nestlé, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said the internal industry documents were striking because they provide scarce evidence that the food industry has suppressed the research she didn’t like, a practice that has been documented in tobacco. businesses, pharmaceutical companies and other industries.

“From what this article says, the sugar industry was not interested in answering open-ended questions about whether sugar could be harmful to rats or, given preliminary suggestions of possible harm, to do further studies to find out one way or another, ”she said. noted. “Instead, it stopped the research when the results looked unfavorable.”

In general, research on rats and other laboratory animals is not considered as convincing as data from human studies. But in the 1960s, Dr Kearns said, animal data carried much more weight. A federal law at the time banned food additives shown to induce cancer in animals and in 1969, for example, the Food and Drug Administration banned cyclamate, a popular artificial sweetener, after research has shown that it causes bladder cancer in rats.

At the time, the Sugar Association viewed cyclamate as a threat to its market share and not only lobbied the FDA to remove it, but also funded some of the research linking it to health issues.

Mr. Hickson left the sugar industry in the early 1970s to work for the Cigar Research Council, a tobacco industry organization. In 1972, an internal tobacco industry memo on Mr. Hickson noted that he had a reputation for manipulating science to achieve his goals. The confidential tobacco memo described Hickson as “a supreme science politician who had successfully condemned cyclamates, on behalf of the Sugar Research Council, on the basis of somewhat fragile evidence.”

Rachel J. Bradford