Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fructose Battle Warms Up

This is early days, but all the ingredients are in place for a national public relations battle aimed at ending the general use of common sugar and high fructose products in the North American diet.  The first shots have been fired and it is a good bet that school kids will shortly be forced to either bring soda pop to school or to buy it outside the school.

I anticipate that this campaign will be as big as the fight against cigarettes.

The core science has been with us forever and we have just been provided with the experiments that will break the logjam.  It is a good bet that this test was fended off in many other venues and finally slipped by under a smoke screen.

Most important we have known for decades that expanding use of sugar was statistically linked to obesity.  The only source of contention was the actual mechanism and there was little contention there.  This work disposes of even that.  Now we know that fructose is the actual driver of obesity.

I have already argued in earlier post for a general conversion to glucose protocols in the entire food production system.  If sweeteners are the issue we have natural stevia to fix it.  Stevia was finally approved by the FDA just last year after decades of delay.  Stevia provides 5% of sweeteners in Japan which is not a small number.

I have posted that stevia and glucose should be a safe energy drink that will not produce the damage produced by fructose.  At least it should be much safer and there is reason to think it will be a good answer.

In the meantime, it is proper to consider a mandatory conversion for all food stuffs.  This needs federal regulation to establish properly.  Let me explain why.  If I am producing any food stuff whatsoever, the best way that I have for making my product taste better than the competition is to add sugar.  That is why it must be regulated out.

Folks will still get plenty of sugar.  The difference will be that they will do it as their choice.

Researchers: HFCS is much worse than table sugar 

22 MAR 2010 12:00 PM

No refined sugar is good for you--but HFCS seems to be significantly worse. The long-running, contentious debate over the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be approaching a conclusive end -- one not likely to please those sensitive souls over at the Corn Refiners Association.

While there has been extensive evidence that fructose is harmful to human health and associated with metabolic diseases like diabetes and liver problems, the fact is that plain old table sugar is itself 50 percent fructose. HFCS does have a higher concentration of fructose at 55 percent but it's close enough to table sugar that most experts continue to dismiss claims that HFCS is on its own more dangerous. And certainly the claim that the introduction of HFCS in the '80s directly led to the current obesity epidemic continues to be a highly controversial view.

A massive missing piece in this debate has been an absence of research directly comparing the effects of HFCS and table sugar (as opposed to pure fructose and glucose sugars, which is typically how the research has been conducted). Thanks to a group of researchers at Princeton, however, that missing piece may just have been found (via Science Daily):

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.
"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight." [Emphasis added.]

It may not seem like it at first blush, but this is blockbuster stuff. It appears to be a carefully conducted study--note Dr. Hoebel’s point that they fed the rats HFCS at “levels well below those in soda pop”--and one that should give anyone who has been dismissing previous evidence regarding HFCS serious pause (and not the kind that refreshes).
For all the talk about similarities between HFCS and sugar, there are differences. The researchers note that the fructose in HFCS, though present at only slightly higher levels than in table sugar, is chemically unbound and thus more freely available to the body. Perhaps this aspect of the sweetener is what is causing the now documented metabolic reactions. This revelation is a shoe that I have been predicting might drop, if only someone would get around to it.
Still, this study doesn't change the fact that we still eat way too much sugar in all forms. But we now have at least some scientific evidence to suggest that without having pumped ourselves full of HFCS over the last 30 years, the American waistline (and its liver and blood chemistry) would look very very different. It also suggests that the food industry's insistence in putting HFCS and other corn-based sweeteners in virtually every food product on supermarket shelves was deeply misguided.
As an added bonus, I’ll direct your attention to this recent Nightline segment on the dangers of fructose. It features UCSF Pediatric Endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, whose [in]famous hour and a half lecture on fructose and its role in obesity has rather surprisingly and thanks to Youtube become a bit of an Internet sensation. And just to be clear, Lustig is no fan of fructose. In fact, he expresses his support to the somewhat skeptical Nightline correspondent for an age limit on soda purchases. Take a look.

1 comment:

Goddess said...

interesting. sadly, i see no definition of "obese" & that itself has been under debate although perhaps not as much under debate as it should be.