History: Sugar, Waugh and Armstrong - 1944

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History: Sugar, Waugh and Armstrong - 1944

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In 1944, a bulletin was published by the Sugar Research Foundation called "Sugar - The Miracle Food" (SRF, 1944a). It was originally prepared for the New England Grocery-Market Magazine, and an additional 20,000 copies had been mailed to others, including school superintendents.

The SRF bulletin was published in response to a campaign called AN UNSWEETENED TOOTH CANNOT DECAY by Prof. Leuman M. Waugh who had "spread his view that tooth decay is caused by sugar".

Waugh was a dentist and professor of orthodontics at Columbia University. The Sugar Research Foundation was quite concerned about Waugh's campaign and distributed a confidential bulletin to its members containing a complete transcript of a radio interview Waugh had conducted earlier with WNYC. The transcript was followed by comments from correspondence meant as a rebuttal to Waugh's statements. One of the comments was from SRF ally Wallace D. Armstrong from the University of Minnesota.
  • Armstrong later testified in Congress and public forums in support of fluoridation. "...his designing and conducting experiments specifically in answer to questions raised by anti-fluoridationists has been a potent factor in this great public health program" (Paffenberger, 1967).
Here is the excerpt from the bulletin:

In contrast with Dr. Waugh's statements is that made by Dr. W. D. Armstrong, Director of the Laboratory of Dental Research, The University of Minnesota Medical School, in a letter addressed recently to our Scientific Director:

"It is my impression that any differences as regards the teeth between 'natural' and refined sugars are the figment of someone's imagination. In the first place, the evidence is not conclusive that any form of carbohydrate is important in this respect."
The Sugar Research Foundation had financed numerous projects at Armstrong's University of Minnesota (also home of Ancel Keys, another SRF collaborator), as well as Harvard University, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin, and the University of Iowa (SRF 1944b, 1945a).

Armstrong, in turn, was happy to repeatedly state his "opinion" that sugar did not cause caries.


In 1944, two weeks after this bulletin was distributed, the Sugar Research Foundation sponsored a "Symposium on Sodium Fluoride" at the New York Institute of Clinical Oral Pathology, an event attended by over 1000 dentists and public health professionals. Speakers included McKay, Dean, Bibby, Ast, and again - Armstrong, upon suggestion by the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF 1944b).

The Sugar Research Foundation wanted to show that it was not sugar that caused caries, but a "lack of fluorine" (SRF 1945c). The goal was to promote the idea that "adequate" fluoride intake from either water or food could "immunize" against caries.

The Sugar Research Foundation had not only instigated and sponsored the symposium, but it also paid for the publication of the symposium booklet "Fluorine in Dental Public Health" which was then sent to 60,000 dentists - "every dentist in the nation" (SRF 1944b, 1945b).

The dentists who received this booklet were told that it was the New York Institute of Clinical Oral Pathology who was sending the booklet, as a public service. Not a word was mentioned of the fact that it was actually the Sugar Research Foundation that was paying for the publication and distribution - as it had for the symposium (1944c).

The fact that the SRF had financed the 1944 symposium was not officially acknowledged in the dental literature until 10 years later (courtesy Peter Meiers).

Armstrong became the president of the International Association of Dental Research in 1945.

References/More Info:

NYPR | Andy Lanset - Explorer Dentist Worries Big Sugar (2021)
https://www.wnyc.org/story/explorer-den ... not-decay/

Paffenberger GC - Announcement of IADR Biological Mineralization Award, in: Armstrong WD - "Body fluid fluoride distribution" J Dent Res 46(1):60-2 (1967)
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.117 ... 0460014201

Sugar Research Foundation Bulletin - "Sugar - The Miracle Product" No. 48 (October 13, 1944) (1944a)
https://web.archive.org/web/20210924210 ... 838_61.pdf

Sugar Research Foundation - Minutes of the Fifth Meeting of the Board of Directors, w Cover Letter by Ody Lamborn (Dec. 8, 1944) (1944b)
https://www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/ ... d=gzyv0228

Sugar Research Foundation: List of projects and grants established by the Sugar Research Foundation (1945a)
https://web.archive.org/web/20210924210 ... 838_93.pdf
https://www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/ ... d=mjpv0228

Sugar Research Foundation - Minutes of the Seventh Meeting of the Board of Directors (June 7, 1945) (1945b)
https://web.archive.org/web/20210924210 ... 838_35.pdf

Sugar Research Foundation - "Fluorine in Dental Public Health" with cover letters (June 27, 1945) (1945c)
https://web.archive.org/web/20210924210 ... 838_43.pdf

Letter from Fice Mork to Ody Lamborn (February 22, 1945)
https://www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/ ... d=tkkl0226
"While in Chicago, I also spoke to the President of the Chicago Dental Society, who has agreed that 'sometime next Fall', he will endeavor to hold a regular meeting of that organization devoted to the subject of the relationship between fluoride and tooth decay. The Chicago Dental Association is the local affiliate of the American Dental Association.

At my suggestion, he expects to invite Dr. Wallace Armstrong to participate at this meeting. Dr. Armstrong, you may recall, was one of the men that Dr. Hockett suggested for the New York Symposium on this subject."
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