Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, but the debate over what exactly causes it rages on.
New research published in the Journal of American Medical Association has thrown the previously accepted consensus into doubt. The study uncovered evidence showing that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists in the 1960s to publish a review that condemned sugar as a risk factor behind coronary heart disease. Instead, the scientists focused the role of cholesterol and dietary fats.
No disclosure was made in the review that funding from the sugar industry was received. However medical journals did not require funding disclosures until the mid-1980s.
Laura Schmidt, a professor at the University of California San Francisco and one of the co-authors of this investigation, said the review helped play a role in shaping government dietary policy and its evaluation of the safety of sugar.
Warnings about the harmful health consequences of fat remained part of the government's dietary guidelines and have spurred low-fat diets.
"We had the anti-fat craze and we were eating SnackWells, that have no fat but are very high in sugar, and we were all eating margarine instead of butter," Schmidt told CNBC's "On the Money" in an interview.
"While the sugar consumption was going up in the 80s and 90s, we also witnessed a tragic obesity epidemic," Schmidt added.