Wednesday, December 10, 2008
In a recent post I discussed the potential role of fructose in the obesity epidemic. In that post, I detailed how a recent article suggested that fructose may be converted into fat more readily than other sugars. You can imagine my excitement yesterday when the newswire was a twitter with stories proclaiming that "High-fructose corn syrup no worse than sugar". No worse than sugar - hooray! I would personally be more interested if it were found to be better than sugar, but I guess we shouldn't put the bar too high for a molecule that we consume in such large quantities.
The exciting news that fructose is only as bad as sugar comes as a result of a recent supplement to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled "High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask". Five review articles are presented which cover the history and metabolic consequences of high-fructose corn syrup consumption. And in fact, one of these articles does claim that the consumption of fructose sweetened drinks results in greater plasma triglyceride levels than drinks flavoured with glucose. However, others report that high-fructose corn syrup is not "uniquely obesity promoting", and on the whole the articles suggest that fructose consumption is no better or worse than the consumption of table sugar.
I don't dispute any of the findings presented in this supplement to AJCN. In fact, I agree entirely with the assertion that fructose is not uniquely responsible for the obesity epidemic. As I mentioned in my last post on fructose, it is ridiculous to pin the obesity of an individual or a society on one food or lifestyle choice. However, I disagree with the interpretation in the mainstream press that if fructose is only as bad as sucrose, it must therefore be a healthy food choice. I can see why the food industry might spin it that way (I believe I was given a pamphlet with a similar argument at the annual conference of The Obesity Society earlier this year), but I have no idea why anyone else would agree with it. It is a very bad sign when anyone is excited that a food item is no worse than sugar. That's like doing cocaine because it is no worse than heroin.
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