A Really Scary Lecture on Fructose by Robert Lustig, M.D.

I just ran across this video earlier today. It’s from a series of lectures at UCSF and it really opened my eyes. I’ve known for a while that fructose was a serious contributor to obesity, but until now I had no idea why. At one point, he compares the biochemical effects of ethanol and fructose. Was pretty scary and makes me want to start growing my own vegetables, raising my own chickens, and never setting foot in a grocery store again.

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2 Responses

  1. Great blog. I stumbled across this page while looking at your Organic Chemistry posts from earlier this year, and the topic led me to one of the Corn Refiners Association’s advertisements concerning HFCS, and associated SNL skit that replicated the original word-for-word. If you haven’t seen them yet, here’s the link:

    http://eater.com/archives/2011/03/13/saturday-night-live-high-fructose-corn-syrup-commercial.php

    The amount of condescension and self-interest inherent in a majority of corporations these days is nothing short of devastating. I’m not even sure which is worse: the probable tens of millions of dollars spent by the CRA on anti-demonizing the obvious perils of HFCS on American diets, or the deliberate distortion of scientific facts on reports released by researchers sponsored by the selfsame organization. This mode of survivalist economic behavior, at the expense of our livelihoods, seems ubiquitous across all industries today.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Interestingly enough, Dr. Lustig’s argument is that the difference between high fructose corn syrup and sucrose is negligible, since both are a source of fructose. In principal, sucrose would be better since it only includes half the fructose, but in practice, the amount winds up being the same because more of it is used in processed foods.

      The CRA has argued that the issue vis-a-vis obesity, is not whether fructose or sucrose is used, but on the amount of sugar that is consumed. Lustig agrees with them and labels them both as poisons.

      His lecture is interesting – I had always assumed that HFCS was this evil thing, but I’m reevaluating whether that’s actually the case. I suspect that the real culprit is the proportion that sugar makes up of the American diet. Our zeal to abandon fats has led us to replace it with carbohydrates and, due to things like corn subsidies, the cheapest alternate has been HFCS. Until the FDA decides to remove fructose from its list of “generally regarded as safe” substances, that’s not going to happen.

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