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Misleading vintage ads about the dietary benefits of sugar, 1950s-1960s


From the 1950s to the 1970s, sugar was marketed as a healthy substance that would help curb hunger and boost energy.

A "pro-sugar" ad that appeared in the August 1964 issue of Time gave a "note to moms," explaining that drinks without sugar would not provide children with the energy they needed through the day's activities.

This form of advertising began in the 1950s when health researchers were spreading news that sugar was linked to weight gain. As a reaction to this "negative" news, the sugar industry increased its advertising budget.

In 1955, the Sugar Association also won an award for "Advertising in the Public Interest". Diet soda became popular in the mid-1960s, and the sugar industry opposed advertisements for diet drinks, stating that the beverage would not help customers lose weight, as the synthetic sugar "full sugar" methods. was not active and satisfied.

The pro-sugar ad campaign was based, in large part, on a health concept called "appestat," which was defined by a nutritionist in New York City for the book Weight Loss in 1952.

The concept explained that a "person's appetite-regulating mechanism" can leave him unsatisfied after a meal, making the person more likely to overeat. Sugar was believed to be able to "turn off" hunger while providing the body with energy.


Ways to market sugary products include: using health terms, such as "healthy", "natural", "naturally sweet" and "mildly sweet"; Using associations with fruits to denote health; Positioning sugary drinks and foods as a freedom-of-choice issue rather than a public health one.

Other tricks included shill advertising through front groups and individuals with no apparent ties to the sugar industry, including those presenting themselves as independent scientists.

By the end of 1971, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned these sugar ads, saying that even though the ads suggested that eating real sugar meant consuming fewer calories, this was not accurate information. This is also during the time that the FTC asked advertisers to provide evidence for their claims.


It is believed that cane sugar was first used by humans in Polynesia, from where it spread to India. In 510 BCE, the then Persian emperor Darius invaded India, where he found a "reed that gives honey without bees".

The secret of cane sugar, as with many other discoveries of man, was kept a secret while the finished product was exported for rich profit.

It was the major expansion of the Arab people in the seventh century AD that broke the mystery. When he invaded Persia in 642 AD he found sugarcane being grown and learned how to make sugar.

As their expansion continued, they established sugar production in other countries, including North Africa and Spain.

Sugar was only discovered by Western Europeans as a result of a crusade in the 11th century AD. The Crusaders returning home talked about this "new spice" and how pleasant it was.

The first sugar was recorded in England in 1099. Subsequent centuries saw a great expansion of Western European trade with the East, including the importation of sugar.

For example, it is recorded that in 1319 AD sugar was available in London at "two shillings per pound". This equates to about US$100 per kg at today's prices so it was a lot of luxury.


In the 15th century AD, European sugar was refined in Venice, confirming that even when quantities were small, sugar was difficult to transport as a food-grade product.

In the same century, Columbus left for America, the "New World". It is recorded that in 1493 he took to the Caribbean to grow sugarcane plants. The climate there was so conducive to the growth of sugarcane that an industry was soon established.

Contemporaries often compared the value of sugar to valuables, including oysters, pearls, and spices. Sugar prices gradually declined as its production became multi-sourced throughout the European colonies.

Once only the enjoyment of the rich, the consumption of sugar also became common among the poor.

During the 18th century, sugar became extremely popular. For example, Great Britain consumed five times more sugar in 1770 than it did in 1710.

By 1750, sugar had overtaken grain as "the most valuable commodity in European trade" – it made up one-fifth of all European imports and in the last decades of the century four-fifths of sugar came from British and French colonies in the West Indies. came. From the 1740s to the 1820s, sugar was Britain's most valuable import.


The Chinese market went through a boom period. The increased demand and production of sugar was largely due to major changes in the eating habits of many Europeans.

For example, they started consuming a lot of jams, candy, tea, coffee, cocoa, processed foods and other sugary foods.

Responding to this growing trend, the Caribbean islands took advantage of the situation and began to produce still more sugar.

In fact, they produced up to ninety percent of the sugar consumed by Western Europeans. Some islands proved more successful than others when it came to making products. In Barbados and the British Leeward Islands, sugar provided 93% and 97% of exports, respectively.

As Europeans established sugar plantations on large Caribbean islands, prices in Europe fell. By the eighteenth century, all strata of society had become common consumers of the former luxury product.

At first, most of the sugar in Britain went to tea, but later confectionery and chocolate became extremely popular. Many Britons (especially children) also ate jam.

Suppliers usually sold sugar in the form of sugar and consumers needed sugar nips, a pliers-like tool, to break the pieces.

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