Good example of the thinking behind our health and nutrition policies

high fructose corn syrup

Updated August 7, 2012: After reading Seth Roberts’ review of my blog, I realized that this post could use some clarifying and that Ancel Keys, author of the maligned Seven Countries study Dr. Lustig refers to, could use some equal air time. My edits are in bold. Raw Food SOS presents a closer look at the study here (via Primal Girl). There’s a quick summary after the first two graphs and the photo of Keys.

In this July 2009 video, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, goes over the reasons why argument that sugar, and specifically fructose and high-fructose corn syrup, are behind the obesity epidemic. (Sugar itself is half fructose and half glucose.) You’ve probably heard the gist of it before.

What’s of special interest to me is Dr. Lustig’s explanation description (around 21:50-42:10) of the mistakes in logic, selective science, corporate calculations, and political, market and economic considerations that led to the flood of fructose into the food supply, including the adoption of the low-fat diet health policy. Low-fat foods taste like crap, so manufacturers added sugar, and then high-fructose corn syrup — super-charged, super-cheap sugar — to enhance the taste.

Video: “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” 1:29:28

At around 34:00 he discusses the profoundly-flawed increasingly controversial “Seven Countries” study that led the American Health Association, USDA, and American Medical Association to launch the low-fat craze in 1982. As he says:

“We based 30 years of nutrition education and information and policy in this country on this study, and as far as I’m concerned it has a hole as big as the one in the USS Cole.”

Here are the points about fructose that struck me the most. There’s also a summary slide at 1:25:55.

  • It screws up the brain’s ability to register energy (calorie) input. The brain can’t tell when it’s taken in enough, so you never feel sated.
  • It’s metabolized the same way alcohol is — as fat — and has many of alcohol’s long-term health effects.
  • The low-fat diet is thus a high-fat diet. Fructose more than makes up for the low fat.
  • It’s everywhere — in milk and bread and even baby formula, which Dr. Lustig believes explains the epidemic of obese six month-old babies throughout the world.

Because I occasionally indulge in a Pepsi binge, after watching the video I decided to switch to Mexican Pepsi, which is made with cane sugar rather than HFCS. If I understand correctly, that’s less than half the fructose as in HFCS. So far I’ve had no luck finding it in my area.

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