CSPI Sugar Consumption Grossly Overstated
The Sugar Association, in a statement released today, criticized The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) for misleading the American public about sugar consumption rates and the health effects associated with consuming foods and beverages containing sugar.
“CSPI has been doing this for years and getting away with it,” said Richard Keelor, President and CEO of The Sugar Association, “and we intend to set the record straight. Such blatant and repeated misuse of information is neither science nor in the public interest.”
Keelor cited three inaccurate and misleading statements released by CSPI on May 18.
In their news release, CSPI claimed that Americans consume 158 pounds of sugar per person per year. “This is simply not true,” said Keelor. “The 158- pound figure equates to total sweetener production available in wholesale channels not human consumption. In fact, USDA consumption data shows Americans consume only 40 per cent of the total sweeteners available for commercial use or just 64 pounds per year.
“Continued distortion of sugars consumption is both irresponsible and inflammatory especially when CSPI buries this fact five paragraphs later saying, ‘The actual amount people consume is considerably less.’ The only reason I can think of to sensationalize these irrelevant production numbers is to manipulate public opinion to promote the CSPI agenda.”
Later in the same statement, CSPI strongly implies that increases in sugar consumption are responsible for increases in overweight and obesity among children.
“The evidence on this issue is very clear,” continued Keelor, “and there is no scientific basis on which to claim sugar consumption causes obesity. In 1997, the World Health Organization exonerated sugar consumption as a causative factor in any disease including obesity.
“And the current Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee stated in their final report to the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that ‘there is no direct link between the trend toward higher intake of sugars and increased rates of obesity.”‘
Keelor, who has a Ph.D. in physical education and served for a ten-year period as Director of Program Development for the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, went on to say, “The cause of the obesity crisis is insufficient levels of regular physical activity and too many calories consumed. Experience has shown that trying to reduce consumption of a single nutrient to achieve a more healthy weight simply doesn’t work.
“To really serve the public’s interest, I suggest we all work together to get physical education back into our schools. This would do more to reduce obesity than anything else. I believe there is a direct relationship between our failure to maintain a national commitment to quality physical education and the current obesity crisis.”
Finally, CSPI cites a single study done by a USDA employee as evidence for their assertion that “sugary foods squeeze healthier foods out of some peoples’ diets.”
Keelor continued, “This single USDA study was not published in an independent journal and was never subjected to the external, impartial peer- review process used by the scientific community to assure the validity and rigor of its publications.
“On the other hand, peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (Gibney, M et. al. Consumption of Sugars. 1995) concluded that eating ‘low’ levels of sugars did not necessarily guarantee an individual met dietary guidelines nor did ‘high’ sugars consumption mean a diet of poorer quality.
“This is precisely why Public Law 101 requires national nutrition policy and guidance for consumers to be based on the preponderance of scientific evidence rather than a single study.”
Keelor continued, “An organization calling itself the ‘Center for Science in the Public Interest’ cannot repeatedly misuse science and issue misleading statements in its attempts to influence public policy without being held accountable. It’s time for CSPI to begin to live by the same standards of accuracy and responsibility that they so vehemently demand of others.”
The Sugar Association is a national trade association representing the growers and processors of sugarcane and sugar beets and the marketers of sugar in the United States.