Cristin Kearns Couzens is a Senior Consultant at the University of Colorado Center for Health Administration and an Acting Instructor at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Her degrees include a B.A. in Neuroscience from Trinity College, a D.D.S. from The University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, and an M.B.A. in Health Administration from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Dr. Couzens first became interested in sugar politics in her role as Operations Manager for the Kaiser Permanente Dental Care Program in 2007. While attending the annual Institute for Oral Health Conference focusing on periodontal (gum) disease and diabetes, she received instructions on what to discuss with patients with diabetes from the Program Director of the National Diabetes Education Program at the Centers for Disease Control. Under “healthy food choices” limitations were recommended for saturated fats and salts, but there was no mention of limitations of sugar intake. After challenging the second keynote speaker who promoted the same message, she was told “there is no evidence linking sugar to chronic disease.”
After years of counseling dental patients to reduce their intake of sugars to help manage oral disease (especially as the Dental Director of a low-income dental clinic), the lack of advice on sugars to diabetics seemed conspicuous. Did science support the omission, or were other forces at play? Drawing from her scientific background, and learning from pioneers challenging conventional wisdom (particularly Marion Nestle , Gary Taubes, and Wendell Potter), Dr. Couzens began focusing on trade associations that promote the consumption of sugars to look for answers. Sugarpolitics.com was launched to aid in bringing her research to a wider audience.