Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Sugar

Sugar: spinning a web of influence

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 11 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h231

Re: Sugar: spinning a web of influence

The details of the involvement of nutritionists leading the negotiations with the sugar industry provided by ‘The Editors Comments and Analysis' cannot be disputed. What is questionable is that lasting changes in the practices of the sugar based industry can only follow crusades, confrontation and legislation. A historical parallel might be drawn with Prohibition of alcohol in the United States.

Many years ago I received research finance from the National Association of British and Irish Millers for a large study on measurements of diet, blood chemistry and faecal weight. Twice a year over several years I met amicably with the Association Director and the Chairmen of the two large Milling and Baking Companies along with two medical Professors. Over many meetings the clinicians were able to persuade the Bakers of the nutritional and economic merit of wholemeal and other brown loaves over their previously favoured white loaf. A lasting nutritional advantage was achieved.

The nutritionists indicted in the articles are surely aware of the complex issues. Their non-confrontational approach will almost certainly yield the required dietary results.

It must surely be preferable to discuss, debate and achieve change by education & negotiation rather than by attempting to enforce change by legislation?

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 February 2015
Martin A Eastwood
retired Physician and Reader in Medicine University of Edinburgh