23 April 2012

Sugar Showdown: Science Responds to "Fructophobia"


The scientific community lashed out against "sugar is toxic" sensationalism on Sunday, April 22, identifying it as a distraction from more meaningful areas of research and debate on the causes of obesity and disease.

In a highly attended debate at Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association, scientists expressed clear frustration about the repeated assaults on sugar both in recent news reports and in the scientific literature.

"You don't often see this at a meeting," said John White, Ph.D., of White Technical Research, to me after the event, referring to what he said was "the groundswell of researchers pushing back" against inflammatory remarks and overstatements.

The symposium organized by the American Society for Nutrition showcased both sides of the controversy surrounding the metabolic effects and health implications of sugar—fructose, sucrose, and high-fructose corn syrup—using latest available and emerging scientific findings.

As the first presenter, White presented data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys showing that no correlation existed between total fructose and the prevalence of obesity and that total added sugars and intake of sugar-sweetened beverages have declined for more than a decade.

"The support for fructose as a metabolic threat at current levels of intake is weak," White affirmed.

White also made the point that high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are not different, suggesting the former might've been more appropriately called "medium-fructose corn syrup" because of its similarity to table sugar and other sugars.

Presenting a contrasting view, George Bray, M.D., chief division of clinical obesity and metabolism, showed data that soft drink consumption had increased from 1950 to 2000. Sugar-sweetened beverages, he argued, provide add-on calories that lead to weight gain, particularly from intra-abdominal fat.

In what promised to be a highly charged attack on sugar, characteristic of his appearance in media reports, Robert Lustig, M.D., began with a title slide displaying: "Fructose: alcohol without the 'buzz'". He argued that fructose metabolism was similar to that of ethanol's and that a "beer belly" was not far off from a "soda belly."

In his limited time, fast-talking Dr. Lustig quickly explained metabolic pathways and repeated remarks that fructose may be addicting to the brain like ethanol, based on animal research, and that fructose may be several times more likely than glucose to form advanced-glycation end products (a hallmark feature of uncontrolled diabetes).

Next to speak was cardiologist James Rippe, M.D., who presented a convincing argument that while fructose alone may have "qualitative differences," they were not "quantitative differences." He argued that research comparing pure fructose to pure glucose was not relevant to human nutrition. 

Sharing White's viewpoint, Dr. Rippe added that there were no metabolic differences between the sugars or fructose by itself—that is, there are no clinically meaningful effects on blood lipids at levels consumed by people normally, and no effects on uric acid or blood pressure.

He said the hot topic was an emotional issue creating a "perfect storm" for mistaken identity.

Dr. Rippe said afterward that Dr. Lustig's logic about fructose being uniquely responsible for disease was like going into "an alternate universe" that just did not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Yet it garners attention because of the public's habit of playing "the blame game" mixed with misconceptions about high-fructose corn syrup.

"People called him on it today," Rippe told me. By going to the media directly, he said, Dr. Lustig didn't have to have the same standards of proof that scientists usually must have. 

The last presenter was David Klurfeld, Ph.D., of the United States Department of Agriculture, who rounded out the debate again affirming that there was no evidence suggesting that sugar presented a unique metabolic danger.

"Is there a metabolic difference between sugars? Of course," Klurfeld said, "Is it biologically meaningful?" The answer was that it wasn't, according to the available evidence.

"The dose makes the poison," Klurfeld added. Should there be sugar regulation or taxation? There is insufficient data to justify any decision, Klurfeld said, quipping that whole milk would be next.

A question-and-answer period followed the debate giving a voice to disgruntled attendees who called Dr. Lustig out for suggesting that sugar was a metabolic danger. Dr. Lustig agreed that "everything can be toxic" at a dose, but sugar is abused and addictive.

One commenter (later identified as Richard Black, Ph.D., of Kraft Foods) responded saying that media should stop comparing sugar to cocaine by showing images where the brain lights up in the same areas. "The brain is supposed to light up in response to food," he said.

In an amusing but perhaps humbling moment for Dr. Lustig, he singled out the commenter asking if he had children. The commenter responded that he did. Dr. Lustig then asked him if as infants his children more easily liked sweet foods. The commenter said that, yes, of course they did because breast milk was sweet. Dr. Lustig replied that it was not. His reply caused an immediate reaction (notably, from mostly women) in the room who voiced in unison, "Yes, it is!"

John Sievenpiper, M.D., of St. Michael's Hospital told me after the event he was pleased that the speakers framed their arguments in a way that put the controversy in perspective. As shown in recent meta-analyses of which he co-authored, fructose demonstrated no significant effect on body weight or blood pressure in calorie-controlled trials. Fructose also demonstrated improvement of glycemic control at levels comparable to that obtained in fruit.

"It's hard to change people's minds," Dr. Sievenpiper said, stating concern that people would reduce intake of fruit in response to fears about the metabolic effects of fructose.

Don't miss this Storify story from folks on Twitter using the #sugarshowdown hashtag during the debate. Also, check out video blogger Emily Tomayko's recap on the ASN blog here.

Update 24-May-12: As a follow-up to this report, I've posted an interview with Dr. Sievenpiper here. Hopefully, it will help bring more clarity to the issues and answer several questions people have. If you wish to comment, please do so after reading that post. I've now closed comments on this blog post. 

Update 8-June-12: Check out videos (just published) of each of the talks. Here they are: White, Lustig, Bray, Rippe, and Klurfeld. Oh, and there is a video of the Q&A too. 

37 comments:

Rick Knowles said...

Whether the science holds or not, after watching Lustig's "Is Sugar Toxic" lecture, I eliminated sugar from my diet. I lost additional weight, eliminated gout symptoms and got off medication. My daughter reports mood being easier to manage as well as losing body fat. Personal experience has me siding with Lustig's point of view.

Jeff Rasmuss said...

I'm curious as to how this has an impact on fruit juice as well. Do you think that the sugar would be too high for portion size in that area?

Simba said...

Rick Knowles- I know people who lose tonnes of weight every year by going off dairy, alcohol, coffee, wheat, and meat. They report similar symptoms to yours, plus just generally feeling better, but they stay on sugar (and lots of white rice and spuds).

I've had something similar from switching to fish rather than meat, consuming massive amounts of dairy and chocolate, and eating no spuds. I lost a stone eating at least one bar of chocolate every single day, and my concentration was better. I'm starting to think that it's the change in diet, and removal of something you tend to eat lots of, that does the trick. Not necessarily the nutrients in whatever it is you take out.

Of course this doesn't mean that chocolate or sugar is magical, any more than similar results after taking it out would have meant sugar was the devil.

Sierra Wireless said...

I read this piece with great interest until the last paragraph which states, "... the Corn Refiners Association sponsored the symposium and White and Dr. Rippe receive support from industry".
What a joke.

Sierra Wireless said...
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bondagebreaker said...

I have been following natural dieting for 12 years now . By natural i mean , eating as close to the ground as possible . From own studies i have found that anything that is processed has a change in its biology . Bleached flour , sugar ,salt or anything like this destroys the bodies natural healing enzymes thus creating our aging process to accelerate faster than it would and leaving us susceptible to more diseases & conditions we would not get otherwise . Ninety percent of what we buy in grocery stores today is dead food . Meat is dead food . Cereal is dead food . Anything like juice in a can or even milk is dead . When the plants such as milk plants heat up and pasteurize milk or juice plants they kill off any and all natural vitamins that was in them and have to add man made vitamins or sugars to that processed milk or juice . End result , it is still dead . I am not a vegetarian and i like my meat , but i prefer to eat fish today . We still need our protein . But we can get protein from other sources out side of meat . Red meat is especially dangerous because it dose not digest well and stays in our colon and takes days to come out . . Long life is a blessing in my way of thinking , but long life in pain and misery is not life at all . We all have choice and make our own decisions . I am new here and i hope i am not over stepping any bounds . Forgive me if i am .

David Brown said...

I find certain aspects of the sugar debate troubling. Take, for example, the argument that "there is no evidence suggesting that sugar presents a unique metabolic danger." The word "unique" turns this into an overstatement. Added sugars are consumed in the context of total dietary intake. Why does the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows no correlation between total fructose consumption and the prevalence of obesity? Because other dietary factors, such as omega-6 industrial seed oils, also affect appetite and fat storage(1). And both Dr. Lustig and his critics ignore these factors.

Reference
1. http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007%2810%2900391-6/abstract

Unknown said...

maybe the real issue is balance. The average American ate about a pound of sugar per year in the 1700 hundreds and about 10 pounds a year in the 1800 hundreds. we now consume about 150 pounds of sugar per year.

sami712 said...

Unless people have an actual working knowledge of human physiology, you can't just put out what you've "observed" by cutting something out of your diet or what you "think" is actually going on.

Yes, your diet should be rich in plant-based materials, but having the occasional sugar or meat (as in a couple times a week)is not detrimental. Of course you're gonna lose weight after cutting sugar out, it's a carb that your body metabolizes into fat; the same thing would happen if you cut out potatoes or pasta or bread. As for gout, that could be a result of the placebo effect or you could have just thought yourself into feeling better. The mood thing is true -sugar, caffeine, and other addictive substances messes with brain chemistry.

The human brain involved only because we started consuming meat -particularly fish and red meat. As for eating raw foods, the human body has adapted to eating cooked foods over many centuries, so that argument is invalid. Yes, in certain foods, particularly leafy greens, a lot of nutrients are broken down if cooked too long, but most foods require some cooking/wilting to release the maximum amount of nutrients. So the raw diet isn't any better than a healthy diet that limits processed/canned foods.

As for what we eat being dead -DUH it's dead. It more or less has to be dead for us to consume it. Pasteurization exists to eliminate harmful bacteria in raw foods and extend shelf life. While it does get rid of certain nutrients, it doesn't get rid of everything.

And eating processed foods doesn't kill your body's enzymes, unless you're consuming a toxin of some sort. What it does is kill enzymes in the food. Your body's enzymes are denatured only when subjected to certain pH's, heat, etc. or if your genetic code has a mutation.

And you NEED man-made vitamins to be added to food. Before that happened, vitamin deficiencies, even on a raw/healthy diet, were extremely common. By adding iron to our foods, iodine to salt, and even vitamins to rice, we've cut back massively on things like scurvy and goiters.

You have to understand how the scientific community works and how they're tied into big corporations as well as the media. Don't trust whatever new "study" is out -read the scientific journal article supporting it and look into articles that go against it.

MiledAnimal said...

Some personal observations:

I discovered years ago that my nighttime dehydration and blepharitis was the result of ingesting products with high-fructose corn syrup.

I eat sugar and meat (mostly chicken) everyday but in moderate amounts so as not to gain weight. I also eat a green salad everyday to ensure I'm getting the nutrition I need.

My 21-year-old son had persistent acne that went away when he eliminated sugar from his diet. I'm hoping someday he can resume sugar consumption so I can take him out for salad and donuts.

Unknown said...
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David said...

For years I had highly variable systolic blood pressure ranging from 105 to 165. It did not correlate to stress or anything else I could find. I am extremely fit, and thought I was eating a healthy diet. However, I was drinking 1-2 PowerAde's per day during or after exercise. PowerAde has high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient. After reading something alone about a possible link, I completely cut all high fructose corn syrup from my diet 18 months ago. Almost immediately my systolic blood pressure stablized and has been rock solid between 112 and 120 ever since (with zero drugs). Low or moderate quantities of other sugars do not seem to affect me. I don't know if it's something unique to my body, but I would suspect there are others who have the same effect. Hopefully this is helpful to someone out there.

The Foodies said...

A couple of important disclaimers are that the Corn Refiners Association sponsored the symposium and White and Dr. Rippe receive support from industry.

'Nuff said. I'll stick to the China study anyways

TNO said...

John White, Ph.D., of White Technical Research, is a paid schill of the food industry. Additionally, he helped promote and develop some of the ingredients that are under scrutiny.

The biggest fight we consumers face around nutrition and health information are the billions of marketing dollars from the food and pharma industries. These industries can afford to pay people huge sums of money to come up with false reports that justify their toxins.

Kiba said...

Who own this blog? If it was an official news source, that's one thing, but it's not.

David Despain said...

Regarding "uniqueness", metabolic danger, correlations, and blood pressure:

As noted in my prior post, if fructose was in any way unique in its ability to have a metabolic danger, cause weight gain, or affect blood pressure, then isocaloric controlled feeding trials would have revealed so.

However, Sievenpiper et al found in three meta-analyses that fructose in isocaloric trials showed no significant difference compared to other carbohydrates on body weight or blood pressure. Instead, fructose appeared to actually help maintain blood sugar control, which is a good thing.

http://evolvinghealthscience.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-dr-gupta-hummingbird-fuel-is-not.html

Be said...

Unbelievable. Dr. White is just plain WRONG: "...high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are not different, suggesting the former might've been more appropriately called "medium-fructose corn syrup" because of its similarity to table sugar and other sugars." Fructose is a monosaccharide and sucrose is a disaccharide. Anyone with fructose malabsorption will tell you that the body absorbs and reacts completely differently to fructose (ESPECIALLY the huge amounts of it in high fructose corn syrup) than table sugar (sucrose).

But even without fructose malabsorption, ANYONE who has too much high fructose corn syrup in one day/sitting is going to have a bad gastrointestinal reaction. Why do you think Gatorade has stopped using it???

Small amounts of fructose -- from fruit -- aren't bad for you. But remember, a soda or beverage with high fructose corn syrup in it has roughly 10x the amount of fructose that one apple does.

It's a cheaper sugar for the food & beverage industry to use. That's the only reason it has been so heavily added to our foods in recent years (everything from salad dressings to beverages to breads). Thank goodness for the backlash against it and the move away from it in such large pervasive doses.

Tom of the Missouri said...

This is rather huge:
"A couple of important disclaimers are that the Corn Refiners Association sponsored the symposium and White and Dr. Rippe receive support from industry."

The corn processing folks have a lot to lose in the sugar debate. It is easy to find your point of view supported or discredited with today's research. The difference is the quality of that research. Read highly respected science writer Gary Tubes on this point.

Tom of the Missouri said...
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Tom of the Missouri said...

Insulin metabolism 101 is clear about the role of insulin in fat accumulation. Insulin is highly influenced by sugar (actual sugar, carbohydrates, etc.) consumption and especially the constant consumption therof. To ignore this elephant in the room and search for other explanations is the height of self deception. This explanation also fits very well with the tracking of the obesity and type II diabetic epidemncs, government food recommendations and the trends in food consumption in America. Try Oscam's razor approach and quit getting lost in the trees of metabolic research and stand back and look at the forest.

Think about this: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

BP said...

The fact that they continue to deny the simple effects of Insulin and excess carb intake is astonishing !

ywilbur said...

As person with Heriditary Fructose Intolerance (this is not the same as Lactose intolerance but more similar to say diabetes) with liver damage resulting from fructose or sucrose consumption, I can say cutting it doesn't always lead to weight loss because I eat zero sugar (think diabetic diet without any fruit and most veggies). All I can eat safely are animal products including lots of dairy. I am 5'4 and weigh 210 lbs, because I eat too much dairy plus don't exerice more than walking from car to elevator.

I love the movement for less fructose as it opens up more things I could eat: seriously there are about 115 foods I can eat and 4 drinks (white milk, water, black coffee, Coke Zero (yum!!! uses glucose sugar asparatine).

Richard said...

In March I stopped drinking soda, I was drinking 1/2 to 1 full liter a day, in bottles or cans or 2 liter bottles, At 48 I was 250lbs and wore a size 42 waiste.
Now if is May and I have not weighed myself, but I am wearing 38 to 40 waist and drinking water instead of suger drinks.
I am not really trying to do any special "diet" I still put 2 spoons of suger in my coffee every day, and still eat what I want otherwise, but I am amazed at the difference in what I see in myself..
Not sure if we as a general public realize how much extra suger we are putting in our bodies when we consume sodas on a daily basis, but I am sure it's a lot more than we are designed to take.

David Despain said...

Be, HFCS is made up as almost equal parts glucose and fructose just as cane sugar (sucrose) is. Although the word "high" is in the name (comparing to regular corn syrup), the amount of fructose in HFCS is not relatively higher than cane sugar. 



Tom of the Missouri, I'm quite well aware of what insulin does in the body and how it responds to glucose versus fructose. It's also clear that calories are still king (despite what Taubes says), although it's true that the majority of calories that has contributed to obesity comes from carbs. As these scientists pointed out, however, the problem is really all carbs in the diet not just sugar or the fructose moiety. Read Yoni Freedhoff's review of Taubes's ideas here: http://www.weightymatters.ca/2011/01/book-review-gary-taubes-why-we-get-fat.html



ywilbur, I hope you get some fruit/veggies micronutrients! If you avoid all veggies, you might need to supplement with some vitamins, as well as carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and so on.



Richard, great to hear of your success. I agree that most people don't even realize how many sugar calories they take in by drinking them.



Thanks,
David

Paleolithic_Man said...

I'm Paleo in lifestyle and have cut out all foods with sugar added and all GRAINS_ WHICH BREAK DOWN TO SUGAR in our intestines. I saw nothing, in this story, about insulin spikes or what havoc they cause on our bodies. I have lost 70 lbs 4x and could never keep the weight off until now. I eat a diet that's about 35-40% meat, the rest consists of fruits, nuts, vegetables and some high fat dairy. I'm healthier than I've ever been. My body is in ketosis, which means I'm powered by fat not carbs. My ketones are at a great level as is my cholesterol. There are unfounded ideas about meat leading to heart disease, ask the Mansa Musa, just one of the many cultures that does not eat grains and doesn't have type2 diabetes or heart disease (along with a litany of other western lifestyle diseases. What isn't in their diest? GRAINS. I stick to free range grass fed meat and stay away from those penned in and fed an unnatural diet of grains. Cattle fed grains fattens up and must be harvested (slaughtered) before they die of disease and other complications from this diet. It's the elephant in the middle of the room. Grains, legumes, added sugars and processed foods are bad for us.

Tammy Smith said...

Thank you, Paleolithic_Man... You are right on.

feinman said...

That's it. That's the problem. Lustig was not breast-fed.
My own take on this has a remarkably ironic (prescient?) quotation. http://wp.me/p16vK0-6W
Richard David Feinman

David Despain said...

Paleolithic_Man,

You may have inspired me to write a post on insulin resistance. But I believe you may have missed the point of this post, which is to stop playing the blame game.

No single food or ingredient can be pinned as uniquely to blame for obesity or insulin resistance. Not sugar, not grains, not fat. Overeating, sedentary lifestyle, and other factors are all involved. The evidence does suggest that mainly what we overeat are sugars and grains; however, consider that much of the developing world eats grains (rice, wheat) and don't suffer the problems we do in the U.S.

I welcome a smart discussion about health from an evolutionary perspective. However, I often wonder sometimes if "paleo dieters" miss the forest for the trees as they preach anti-grain, anti-dairy, anti-processed food.

If anything, our genome evolved to be opportunistic with our ancestors competing for food, chasing food, trying not to get eaten by food, going long distances for food. They likely had varied diets with changing compositions of macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) depending on region and season. I imagine there lots of "paleo diets" over the years.

Is it possible to have a healthy diet and still enjoy a little bread and maybe some yogurt? I think so. Although, I don't think it would hurt to have people "chase" or "compete" (exercise) for their food a little more.

David

David Despain said...

Dr. Feinman,

I'm thrilled you posted a comment on this blog. It was great to meet you at UCLA a while back. I mentioned your post on Lustig in a previous article here: http://evolvinghealthscience.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-dr-gupta-hummingbird-fuel-is-not.html

David

Srinato said...

But WHY do we overeat now and not 60 years ago? Was it because so many people smoked off their stress and today we eat it?

feinman said...

Thanks for previous on my post.

I think one of the problems in all this is that we forget that in science when you don't know, you don't know. The only ones that we can blame in the blame game are those who are sure they have the answer and insist on only one way. Low-carbohydrate regimens and generalizing to paleo are primarily therapeutic. For diabetes and metabolic syndrome science points to such approaches as the default diet but that only means the one to try first. I think that's pretty much what we know.

I would add one point which is that if you receive support from industry or the Corn Refiners sponsors the event, that cannot be taken as influence unless the speaker is a representative for that organization. The NIH is, in my view, extremely biased in what they fund but you have to assume that if the authors say that the funding agency is not involved than that's how it is. Otherwise, we have nothing. (Of course, if there is actually evidence of wrong-doing, there are agencies that you can take your case to).

Anyway, great report on the Sugar Showdown.

alphaa10 said...

Article author and blog moderator David Despain, as a self-described science journalist, is not nearly careful enough about maintaining his reportorial objectivity. Despain gets off to a bad start with his first sentence, "The scientific community lashed out against "sugar is toxic" sensationalism".

What community? Neither Despain nor anyone else at the San Diego conference saw a scientific consensus emerge that fructose and/or sucrose is (1) metabolically the same or similar and (2) neither poses significant danger to human nutrition.

So, it is difficult for Despain to portray a scientific community in enough agreement to lash out at anything, least of all, criticism of fructose or sucrose.

With coloring and tonal adjectives like "the fast-talking Dr. Lustig", "disgruntled attendees who called Dr. Lustig out" for his remarks, and "In an amusingly but perhaps humbling moment for Dr. Lustig" Despain persuades readers his sympathies lie with Drs. White and Rippe.

Perhaps most telling about Despain's presentation is the article's final paragraph, in which Despain confides "A couple of important disclaimers are that the Corn Refiners Association sponsored the symposium and White and Dr. Rippe receive support from industry."

Despain, himself, has a master's degree in human nutrition and a professed love of cell biology, but his years running editorial posts for industry have given him a decided preference for the industry position presented at the conference.

If Dr. Lusting needs to be "called out", the scientific evidence is the only grounds for such a debate, and not barbed observations from an ostensibly unbiased member of the press.

David Despain said...

alphaa10,

I find irony in your comment because part of what led to this post was my grief with major media outlets publishing reports that in my eyes were largely unbalanced with bias toward Dr. Lustig's opinions. (For example, see my prior post: http://evolvinghealthscience.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-dr-gupta-hummingbird-fuel-is-not.html). As the majority of news articles have gone with the "Is sugar toxic?" angle (Gupta on CNN, Gary Taubes in NY Times), I found this an opportunity to tell the "other side of the story." And I felt compelled to tell it.

The report here is accurate: This was a symposium at EB, one of the biggest nutrition science meetings there is; attended by highly respected scientists in the science community. In that symposium, Dr. Lustig was seriously being challenged for sensationalism of his position. Dr. Lustig did talk fast and admittedly so because of short amount of time. The attendees that challenged him did express their dissatisfaction with him.

I suppose it's possible I could've gone off searching for a scientist who would've given me a quote defending Dr. Lustig. Instead, however, I thought it the wiser to seek out John Sievenpiper's expert opinion because of his own extensive research on fructose. As I see it, the media have already done their part in favorably reporting on Dr. Lustig's views. As stated before, the real news and story was of the scientists lashing out against his views.

However, you've touched on a subject I've often thought about (and I imagine other journalist-bloggers, too) -- that is, where to draw the line on objectivity in on a personal blog, especially when that blog is about a subject you have expertise in writing about. I won't claim complete objectivity on this blog; however, I will claim that any bias I have (as a nutritionist or as a science journalist) is to report the truth with a skeptical view.

I will only defend my history in writing for industry by saying the following: (1) blogging is a hobby; it doesn't pay (although I wish it would); (2) my views here do not reflect that of any company or vice versa (no, CRA did not pay me to write this post); and (3) I find that having worked alongside nutritionists and food scientists for a long time has afforded me a unique perspective on nutrition science versus other journalists that I believe is valuable.

Thanks,
David

feinman said...

In defense of David, Lustig has pretty much made himself into a media spectacle. He is as ubiquitous as Alec Baldwin and as all-over-the-place as Mitt Romney. Saying "alcohol is a carbohydrate" would be okay if, when challenged, his answer was that he sometimes gets carried away, but he defends those things. Personally, I admire his presentation and he is "fast-talking" only in the sense of a good salesman. "Scientific community" was a poor choice of words since Lustig has plenty of support from establishment science. It is amazing that he could get into Nature and that he would then use that opportunity to say that alcohol is like sugar because it's made from sugar. He really wrote that. Most of us knew better than that when we were literally in the third grade.

There is a large literature on fructose but most of it precedes the current media frenzy. The data supporting Lustig's position comes largely from studies in which the baseline diet is 55% carbohydrate (more than we have been able to reach during the obesity epidemic). If you are eating 55% carbohydrate, is it worse to have high fructose rather than mostly glucose. Very likely although even there the data are not overwhelming. Fructose may be a problem but it is a carbohydrate and Occam's razor dictates that you have to exclude any effect as due to its effect on carbohydrate metabolism. If we meet that challenge we will get the information. I don't think we have it now.

Practically speaking, removing sugar from the diet or even simply cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages is a effective quick way to reduce dietary carbohydrate, at least from anecdotal studies and doing so is a good strategy. But that is way different than saying that fructose is a poison. And remember, in the range of normal intake, even the fructophobes admit that for people with diabetes, glucose is worse than fructose. Do you know anybody with diabetes. Most of us do.

David Brown said...

My concern is that the scientific community is enthralled to the corporate food sector. Ever hear of the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF)? It's the latest most powerful iteration of a string of corporate supply chain protection schemes that have long shaped academic curricula and government policy.
http://www.foodinsight.org/Blog/tabid/60/EntryId/290/A-Spoonful-of-Science-on-Sugar.aspx

Scientists and science writers alike have been educated in a system that promotes a sort of scientific dislogic. For example, if Dr. Lustig truly believes that fructose is uniquely responsible for certain disease conditions, as asserted by Drs Rippe and Klurfeld, Dr. Lustig has, indeed, carried logic to the extreme. However, if Dr. Lustig merely believes that fructose is an important factor in the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and non-communicable disease, Drs. Rippe and Klurfeld are in the wrong to attribute to Dr. Lustig an extreme position.

"Dr. Rippe said afterward that Dr. Lustig's logic about fructose being uniquely responsible for disease was like going into 'an alternate universe' that just did not stand up to scientific scrutiny."

"The last presenter was David Klurfeld, Ph.D., of the United States Department of Agriculture, who rounded out the debate again affirming that there was no evidence suggesting that sugar presented a unique metabolic danger."

Through the years I've seen many statements by sugar interests to the effect that "sugar alone" is not responsible for whatever medical condition was under discussion.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Despain said...

As a follow-up to this report, I've posted an interview with Dr. Sievenpiper here: http://evolvinghealthscience.blogspot.com/2012/05/fate-of-fructose-interview-with-dr-john.html.

Hopefully, it will help bring more clarity to the issues and answer several questions people have. If you wish to comment, please do so after reading that post. I've now closed comments on this blog post.

David