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Fructose is toxic - your thoughts?

I came across this video on Epicurious. It was of a presentation given by a Dr. Robert Lustig who is a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at the Univ. of Calif.'s endocrinology dept. The video is 90 mins long, but I watched and found it riveting.

To summarize, he basically explains how fructose was developed and introduced to the American public/diet in the 1970's and how it has completely taken over our processed foods. It's use soared in the 80's once the low fat & fat-free craze took off and has continued to until very recently. It touches on some of the politics surrounding HFCS and the American Heart Assoc., American Medical Association and the USDA. But the science is what I really found interesting. He demonstrated how chronic fructose exposure promotes something called metabolic syndrome (type 2 diabetes, obesity, lipid issues, hypertension & coronary disease). He explained, in layman's terms, that fructose essentially is alcohol without the buzz. Fructose is a carb but it metabolizes like a fat and raises our small, dense LDL (the bad LDL).

Here is the link. I'm interested in what others think about this. I know the evils of HFCS have been aired and re-aired. But the concern seems to be waning a bit. And the corn and sweetened beverage industries are fighting hard with marketing and name changes.


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  1. I think it's hilarious (At the same time, stuff/garbage like this gets me upset).

    Fructose wasn't developed, but exists in nature in commercial sugar and fruits. Many fruits have more fructose than HFCS (The common 55% blend).

    HFCS does this and that... My (overused) response is, "Have you looked at the rate of this and that in other countries (where HFCS isn't used)?" It's up everywhere, because people in developed parts of the world are over-consuming. A good, but sad, example of this is the Mediterranean diet. It's one of the most study and praised diets in the world. The problem is, it's not the modern/current diet in the region, which is unhealthy like the rest of the developed world.

    Everything in high amounts is toxic. Fructose isn't the problem; over-consumption, coupled with a lack of activity is the problem. Fructose is metabolized like a fat? EVERYTHING is metabolized like a fat if it's over-consumed.

    Many NBA analysts think that Lamar Odom of the LA Lakers will win the 6th man of the year award. I bring this up because he has a diet that's LOADED with fructose, in the form of HFCS, in the form of candy. The catch here? He burns it off. You can see the amusing video here:

    1 Reply
    1. re: ediblover

      Having just watched the entire video featuring Dr. Lustig's lecture I think I can safely say that fructose is NOT metabolized like a fat (according to Dr. Lustig and some of his colleagues at USCF - who he thanked for their contribution to his lecture at the end). There are unique (problematic) properties to the manner in which fructose is metabolized that cause Dr. Lustig to term it "toxic" in the same way he called ethanol "toxic." Those metabolization problems lead to our current epidemic in heart disease and insulin resistance and obesity and type 2 diabetes (according to Dr. Lustig and the research he walks you through in his lecture).

    2. This thread on 'is sugar toxic' essentially covers the same topic, starting with a NYT article that draws heavily on Lustig


      So anything sweet is being squeezed out of our diet, from the 'fructose is toxic' on one side, and glucose has a high glycemic index on the other. All the traditional sweeteners are about 50% fructose (sugar, maple syrup, and honey). Starches have to go as well, since they are broken down into these basic sugars before being absorbed.

      6 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Well, yeah. You're describing my diet. :-) No starch, no sugar. Except for an occasional splurge, usually involving dark chocolate.

        1. re: paulj

          Just for kicks and curiosity, a few weeks ago I reviewed the (mostly) constant aspects of my diet. The carb count came to 200g with half of that coming from sugar. The best part is that most of the sugar came from milk, fruits and vegetables; the worst offenders were the milk and banana. The added sugar part (granola bar, ketchup and jerky) came to under 20g.

          Give up milk, fruits and vegetables? Well, as much as I like my meats, nuts/seeds and legumes, I don't think so.

          1. re: ediblover

            Not the vegetables, anyway. I eat boatloads of the right ones.

            1. re: ediblover

              haha i wish i could get to the satisfyingly full feeling with 200g of carbs a day. i'm at almost 500g a day, so the "everything in moderation" aspect of a diet becomes extra important for me. if half of my carbs per day came from sugar id be at 250g of sugar a day! yikes!

              i agree with everyone that has mentioned that moderation is key though. like i mentioned above, that moderation may be different depending on who you are, but it is still the key

              1. re: mattstolz

                Oh, it's a lot more than 200. Parts of my (weekday) diet is mostly fixed (Things like breakfast, snacks and whatnot) and I only looked into that part; it comes to maybe around half my caloric intake. So, about 350-400g a day is a guess. The sugar number would also go up since I love sweet/loaded vegetables like peas.

            2. re: paulj

              "Starches have to go as well, since they are broken down into these basic sugars before being absorbed."

              According to what I heard that isn't the case since carbs breakdown into glucose (along with the sugars) and dietary fiber, and the problems (that arise from ingesting forms of fructose via HFCS or sugar) are greatly minimized.

            3. Aaaand I'll write what I wrote on the other thread:

              everything in moderation. don't live on sugar alone, don't overdo it, and you'll be fine.

              toxic my ass.

              15 Replies
              1. re: linguafood

                Not true for everyone. And everyone defines "moderation" as how they eat, not how *you* eat. Sugar is toxic, (though not necessarily moreso than starches) and fructose does raise triglycerides, the lipid marker that is most predictive of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Just sayinzall. You pays your money, you takes your chances.

                At the very least, HFCS shows up in a lot of products that don't contain it when sold in other countries not propping up the industry, and it adds no value, only potential detriment.

                1. re: mcf

                  I avoid products with HFCS or excessive amounts of sugar in it. But I seriously doubt, unless someone is already ill with diabetes or something, that they cannot have an occasional pasta dinner, or some chocolate every once in a while.

                  It's when you (not you personally, obvy) start relying on processed food with lots of sugar added, and eat TOO MUCH of it, it will have a detrimental effect.

                  It's like saying caffeine is toxic. Everything is toxic if you overdo it, even water.

                  But maybe not everyone understands what moderation actually means, or their definition of it is wrong. Who knows.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I didn't say they can't have an occasional pasta dinner (though I can't). Dark chocolate works very well into a carb/sugar restricted diet, and I have it regularly, often even. Processed vs. unprocessed wrt grains isn't significant metabolically in terms of impact, though processed foods will often be accompanied by other stuff that makes it worse.

                    No, it's not like coffee, which has health benefits. Sugar has none, and fructose does metabolic damage to some extent, it appears.

                    The problem with the word "Moderation" is that it doesn't mean *anything.* It's personal.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Very true. The problem is when people are poor or strapped for cash, don't cook much and eat at cheap fast food restaurants often..."moderation" is not possible. It is really easy to get "overdosed" on many substances contained in foods that they think are "healthy". If food corporations didn't put it in every item- it wouldn't be such a problem.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        Exactly. It's been added to foods, and is SO ubiquitous, that it's hard to avoid the cumulative impact on an already less than ideal diet.

                        1. re: sedimental

                          it actually IS possible to get "moderation" still... but it takes some research on nutrition facts from the companies and time figuring out what the best options on a menu are... which almost defeats the purpose of fast food dining.

                          and its not just poor people frequenting these restos. its also very successful people who dont have time, and anyone else constantly rushing. its the beauty (and the downfall) of America all wrapped up into one

                    2. re: mcf

                      Not true for everyone. And everyone defines "moderation" as how they eat, not how *you* eat. Sugar is toxic, (though not necessarily moreso than starches) and fructose does raise triglycerides, the lipid marker that is most predictive of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Just sayinzall. You pays your money, you takes your chances.


                      In these cases, it is not the food item that is toxic -- or the problem; rather, the consumer.

                      To lay claim that sugar is toxic because those who cannot properly metabolize it without wreaking havoc on their insulin levels would be like villifying gluten because Celiacs cannot consume it due to autoimmune issues.

                      I agree with lingaufood ... moderation.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        My perspective is that the sugar/starch laden diet has caused the epidemic of IR and DM.

                        This will be my last comment on the topic. The mods hate clinical talk; wrong venue.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          "To lay claim that sugar is toxic because those who cannot properly metabolize it without wreaking havoc on their insulin levels would be like villifying gluten because Celiacs cannot consume it due to autoimmune issues."

                          Except we all metabolize it the same way. Obviously if you eat less HFCS or sugar the insidious physical problems of obesity and type 2 diabetes and heart disease will be mitigated. But just like with the physiological effects of smoking, there is no "safe" way to metabolize fructose.

                      2. re: linguafood

                        I agree with you linguafood. To demonize one macronutrient seems silly. Especially when dosage and exercise aren't taken into consideration when analyzing it. We have become much more sedintary over the past 30 years and we certainly consume a lot more processed foods. But, like you, I try to avoid HFCS and I don't drink sweetened beverages. But I do think a lot of damage was done when several organizations and govt agencies got behind the fat-free/low-fat diet movement. It changed how people think and swung the pendulum too far in the high carb direction (at least until those wacky atkins folks came along j/k). And the fact that it is in just about every processed food is disturbing.

                        Here is an interesting blog post I found that counters many of Lustig's assertions. It generated 500+ comments including a couple from Dr. Lustig himself. But the blogger basically makes the points that Lustig villified fructose without little mention about dosage and context which, in the bloggers opinion, is negligent.


                        1. re: lynnlato

                          You should read the Taubes article. He's always on point wrt to what the science demonstrates, rather than how results are distorted by those with a bias either way. It's a very good article.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Whoa, I read the NYT's piece today while at the gym. I think I am on "Sugar is Toxic" overload. That was a loooong piece and after watching the 90 min. video yesterday and reading the counter-argument in that blog (also yesterday) I am completely overwhelmed with information, opinions, etc. Ha! Sucrose, fructose, HFCS, glucose, metabolic syndrome, facts, figures, studies - aaaaah my head is spinning!

                            Taubes article was a very comprehensive look at the subject matter - but it's also clearly slanted in the "sugar is evil" direction. I'll have to read it again in a few days when I have a clear, non-sugar-laden head. ;-)

                            For those that are interested, here is the link to the New York Times/Taubes piece:


                            1. re: lynnlato

                              It's not "slanted." It's accurate reporting, though that's clearly his POV, as he states it up front. He came to it, though, purely as an objective researcher while studying crap science for another topic. As usual, Taubes has scoured every bit of available data, accurately reported what the data actually support and not just the author's often unsupported conclusions. I love that about him; he goes where the objective info takes him.

                              1. re: mcf

                                Didn't Taubes write a very biased and much-contested pice for the Times several years ago where he clearly cherry picked his research and often took his interview subjects out of context (they even complained about this). I take just about anything Taubes says with a grain of salt. He has a low-carb agenda no doubt.

                          2. re: lynnlato

                            That http://www.alanaragonblog.com has a link to USDA data on the per capita consumption of various foods over 40 years. It appears that they have taken production numbers for many food stuffs (fruits, grains, sweeteners, etc), adjusted them for losses (such as waste), and converted to the numbers to per capita. For our purposes the most interesting presentation calories from various sources.

                            This spreadsheet has numbers by major categories, and food types within those categories.

                            Looking that the last 2 decades, total calories peaked around 2000, and have dropped off a bit since then. Sweeteners also peaked at that time, and have dropped off about 10%. It's fats that have shown the biggest increase in the last 2 decades.

                            In the detailed view of fats, I see evidence of known food trends like the drop in margarine, and shift from shortening to oils - basically the move away from transfats. In the detailed view of sweeteners, sugar has remained constant. HFCS peaked in 2000, and is back to 1990 levels now.

                            You can look at more USDA data at

                        2. Here is a little newsy article on sugar:


                          Clearly, most Americans have no idea what moderation is! I know someone that has a soft drink "addiction" - she drinks a 6 pack per day of coke. Can you even imagine?????

                          13 Replies
                            1. re: mcf

                              Yes. I often volunteer to help lower functioning folks with profound disabilities- compromised cognitive abilities and developmental disabilities (and elderly) grocery shop. It is not hard to help them understand that pop has sugar in it- but it is impossible to teach them to read labels for all the different "words that mean sugar". They think I am "fibbing" when I tell them that their yogurt has sugar in it, their bran cereal has it, etc. Soda pop is a big "treat" and I am not going to wrestle it away from them :)

                              Most of the time they are obese, have blood pressure problems, blood sugar problems, etc. They need it more than anyone- they can't cook- AND they only have food stamps! Uggghhh.
                              Do you realize how many people fall into this category? Alot.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                Yes, I used to work with a mentally ill/multiply diagnosed population, too. Government food, food stamps, and personal tastes... and medications that raise blood sugar, too.

                              2. re: mcf

                                Yes. Most of my coworkers are (mostly diet) soda addicts. I say mostly diet because they're mostly obese and insulin-dependent diabetics. The one guy who doesn't drink diet soda drinks a ton of it, too, probably far more than a six-pack a day. It freaks me out even after four years how much soda these guys drink. It freaks them out how much iced tea, mostly matcha, I drink. We are a mutually respectful group, fortunately, and any teasing about fat, food, and drink is extremely hardassed and done with love. :)

                              3. re: sedimental

                                unfortunately, i CAN imagine that people do that. as disgusting as it seems to me, i know people who go through several "Big Gulps" a day... as someone who drinks only water and milk it just amazes me!

                                1. re: mattstolz

                                  I used to love Fresca, but it tastes so sweet to me now that on the annual occasion that I buy some, I have to cut it by 2/3 with seltzer before I can stand it. I mostly drink seltzer and plain water.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    Me too. I absolutely cannot drink a coke. I do drink diet coke once in a while.... but I cut the sweet taste with rum :)

                                    1. re: sedimental

                                      Fresca *is* diet soda! I can't believe how sweet they make things.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        its really pretty amazing. even when i drink crystal light, i take the single-serving packets and will use about 1/3 of the serving for the taste im going for

                                        1. re: mattstolz

                                          I got a sample of it and tried it, and that's what i had to do, too. I usually avoid artificial sweeteners altogether, but once in a while it'd be nice to be able to buy a damned Fresca and enjoy it again.

                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                            LOL- I cut the water down by about half. I learned to do that with Tang when I was a kid- I like the strong flavors, I guess if i"m going to have a sweet drink it had better be SWEET. And STRONG.

                                      2. re: mcf

                                        That's interesting. The man and I gave up soda pretty much a few years ago - before that, we used to drink diet coke. Not crazy amounts, but regularly. I cannot STAND diet coke now b/c it's so incredibly sweet, and on the few occasions (usually with a burger) we have one of those throw-back real sugar Mexian cokes, I sometimes can't even finish that, tho I admit on occasion to like it.

                                        Fresca, on the other hand, I had yesterday for the first time in a while, and I was surprised at how not so sweet I found it. I do like my grapefruit, tho. Generally, I prefer water.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          Receptors become resensitized once the substance they respond to is in shorter supply. I get a very strong sweet taste from romaine lettuce that I never used to get when I ate starch and sugar. My husband used to like uber sweet stuff that made me gag, now that he's low carbed for health the past few years, everything tastes too sweet to him, too. And no more nightly desserts, never looking for it at all.

                                          BTW, this subject header is wrong; fructose is not the subject of the article, sugar consumption is.

                                  2. A buddy of mine uses 3 (THREE) packets of splenda in his coffee. I use a 1/2 to 1/3.


                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      my brother does the same.

                                      while studying at a local coffee shop the other day i watched a guy take the sugar shaker, turn it over all the way, and have a conversation while he poured it into his coffee. had to have been at least 1/3 of a cup of sugar in his coffee by time he was done.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          Very likely it will if he keeps it up, yes.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            Or he could get hit by a car any day '-)

                                            Life - just a long disease that ends in death.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              Hmm, I'd heard that life is the only sexually transmitted disease that ends in death.;-)

                                              We all take our chances in life and I'm not going to run around being afraid. I know far more people who've died being hit by cars than people who have died from moderate consumption of sugar and yet I'm out there running on the roads; and I'm still behind the wheels of a car. LOL, though maybe I feel better with the idea that while I'm running, I'm not the lunatic behind the wheel.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Boy, talk about your non sequitirs! :-)

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  remind me not to run where you live lol

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Maybe you should equip your car with external air bags!

                                        2. I have a rock-hard ass, and I avoid eating HFCS or large quantities of fructose.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: redfish62

                                            'large quantities of fructose' - where are those found? Are there any sources which are much higher in fructose than glucose? Only things I can think of are some fruits and maybe agave syrup.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Here's a USDA compilation of sugar content of various foods

                                              Sweeteners like sugar and HFCS have roughly equal proportions of fructose and glucose (possibly bound together), and most fruits are also roughly equal. Watermellons, apples and pears have the highest ratios of free fructose to glucose - 2:1 or even 3:1 in the case of pears.

                                              Maybe I should rethink my preference for 100% juice punches (over HFCS sweetened ones). 100% punches tend to be sweetened with apple and pear juice concentrates. Of course I'd also want to pay attention to the total sugar levels.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Honey has a ratio of fructose to glucose as similar to HFCS.

                                          2. Fructose is toxic????

                                            I sure know what fructose is - one of the many C6H12O6 sugars - half of sucrose. What do you mean by TOXIC? The usual meaning of TOXIC is "will kill you in small amounts" Anyone that thinks fructose is toxic by that definition is crazy. In addition anyone that thinks fructose is metabolized as a fat must have flunked Biochemistry.

                                            20 Replies
                                            1. re: rich in stl

                                              The article addresses that point; that toxic is typically thought of as acute, but this type is more cumulative. Have you actually read Taubes? You won't find sloppy scientific errors in his assiduously researched and detailed articles.

                                              1. re: rich in stl

                                                Being that Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at UC I doubt he flunked biochem.

                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                  But you should consider that a large part of his patient base being juvenile diabetics as being a probable couse of something less than a completely objective viewpoint.

                                                2. re: rich in stl

                                                  Agree with the toxic statement. Not that it matters, because it doesn't. Let's just say, for laughs, that sugar is toxic. Will you, the reader, actually stop consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, milk and everything else that contains sugar? Do you even have to think about the answer?

                                                  Doesn't that pretty much end the discussion?

                                                  Oh, hate to defend the guy, but he's telling a half-truth (okay, so I'm not really defending him) with fat, fructose and metabolism. Fructose is unique in that the liver may decide to turn it directly into fat/storage instead of energy (like everything else). Course, this happens when the liver is all full and happy with glycogen. So, as long as you over-consume and don't need the energy, the liver is quick to go fat-happy with fructose. Course, all that energy that's sent out to the body is turned into fat if you don't use it so...

                                                  1. re: ediblover

                                                    Clearly, you haven't read the Taubes article, with its focus on added sugars.

                                                    1. re: ediblover

                                                      The thing is, plenty of people do overconsume simple sugars and carbs. When they are older, they can't have a lot of fruit and lots of some veggies, because they have done damage to their pancreases. When you get diabetes, or if you are prediabetic, you HAVE to limit your sugars.

                                                      That's the situation I am in, except I have not been a huge consumer of HFCS or bakery type products. I ate low fat for years, but could not control my weight that way. My point is, that while it sounds absurd to talk about limiting fruit or milk or starchy veggies, if you abuse sugar and simple carbs long enough, you might have to limit these things later.

                                                      There are many reasons that people eat too much carbohydrate. But the main reason they do, it seems to me, is that it is so easy to do so.

                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        While it's no where near as serious as diabetes, I'm lactose-intolerant. I go through a gallon of milk in a week. So, my position is pretty clear. I love food and will enjoy it without guilt or worry, because there's really no reason to (since I adhere to my philosophy of balance, variety and practicality).

                                                        But, we're straying here, since, as stated before, excess anything is bad for you.

                                                        1. re: ediblover

                                                          The consequences of consistently drinking milk if you are lactose intolerant, are surely less worrisome than the consequences of eating sugar if you are or tend toward diabetes.

                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                            In the short term drinking that milk is more uncomfortable.

                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                              Hence, I said that it's no where near as serious. It was given as an example - There are always ways to adjust. On the <1% chance I get Type II, rest assure I'll still be eating my dessert. Because, well, it's (again) excess that harms and I've got a handle on that.

                                                              But, all that is a hypothetical, because sugars/carbs aren't bad. Despite what the uneducated that feel empowered by what they read online may proclaim as fact, despite what the educated with agendas present as (half) facts, I'll side with reason and actual facts, which says that we really don't know much and shouldn't go pointing fingers at everything.

                                                              Just for laughs:
                                                              Protein and fats are deadly! Carbs are "clean" fuel. These days we spend so much time worrying about the environment, we forget about the natural activities that go on in our own bodies! If you want to be green, go with carbs. Metabolism has by products. The "cost" of burning up carbs is CO2; that's right, harmless carbon dioxide that moves cleanly out of our lungs. That's not the case with protein and fats! They're the fossil fuels of our bodies, forcing our liver and bladders to work extra hard! Carbs are also the Prius that runs great on regular fuel while proteins are the SUV. It takes little energy to process carbohydrates, but it takes a ton for the body to break down protein for fuel. Be efficient, eat carbs!

                                                              All of the above is true, but is spun in a silly, misleading way.

                                                              1. re: ediblover

                                                                Actually, all of the above is completely without scientific support. Efficiency is a huge part of why carbs and sugar are so damaging.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  Beware of 2 different measures of efficiency.

                                                                  'ediblover' is talking about the overall energy efficiency of production of these food items.

                                                                  'mcf' is talking about the ease with which the body derives energy from the foods - i.e converts them to the simplest sugar, glucose. With single minded focus on diabetes prevention, the ease of digesting carbs and sugars translates to high glycemic load and eventual pancreas damage.

                                                                  Lustig is worried about a different issue - the metabolic path for the other simple sugar, fructose, which involves the liver. The liver is also involved in fatty acid processing.

                                                                  Over on the 'Sugar toxic?' thread I cited an MD, David Katz, who warns against the ONAAT fallacy - excessive focus on 'one nutrient at a time.'

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    And I've responded over there.

                                                                    I think we just have to disagree about some things.

                                                                    For the record, I don't think that consumption of too many simple carbs is the end all be all of maintaining good health. But it has turned out to be a big issue for me. And I know it is a big issue for many people.

                                                                    We've got people eating low fat, who should be eating low carb--or both. We've got families eating from the freezer, or the fast food joint, when they should be eating fresh and lean and higher protein.

                                                                    For myself, this is personal. I am on a mission to stay as healthy as possible. As Mr. Sueatmo says often, if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. I eat low carb and I exercise 3 times a week--something I never did regularly before.

                                                                    But I want to eat good food, and I want to prepare it well. So here I am on CH, talking about eating low carb, and learning a lot.

                                                                2. re: ediblover

                                                                  The problem is that you are arguing a position for the fun of doing so. It may well be that you process carbs in such a way that your health is not compromised. So, lucky you! You get a free carbs card in the Monopoly of life. But many of us don't.

                                                                  I used to be in the every food has a function camp. I now know that for me carbs in any but small amounts are toxic to me.

                                                                  I don't think I am in a small minority, either. All you have to do is look around you. Or talk to almost anyone over the age of 55 about his/her health. The over consumption of carbs causes major problems for many folks.

                                                                  You might want to make fun of the issue, but that doesn't mean that the issue is not serious. It just means that you don't accept it.

                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                    You said the key words, "over consumption." Over consumption of anything is bad. Very few people have a natural aversion to carbohydrates. Heck, it's the preferred fuel of choice of the body.

                                                                    Carbohydrates (and fructose here) is just being singled out because blaming big industry/corn is easy. It's a heck of a lot easier (and less of a burden) to blame them for what is really a lack of discipline on the individual's part. No one is forcing us to eat all the sweetened stuff, rather, we choose.

                                                                    My stance on this, and just about everything else concerning "dangerous" foods, is this: Eat in moderation and live an active lifestyle. Do that and odds are greatly in your favor that you don't have to worry all that much about fructose, carbohydrates, hypertension, T2DM, heart disease and so on. I'm betting you'll be happier too with the foods available to you and the activities you can participate in.

                                                                    1. re: ediblover

                                                                      "Carbohydrates (and fructose here) is just being singled out because blaming big industry/corn is easy."

                                                                      I find that Dr. Lustig is not blaming an industry so much as showing scientifically that fructose is harmful to us as a species. He also makes the point (not in this 90 minute lecture) in another video in which he is being interviewed by ABC that there is not one bodily process (NONE) that requires sugar in order to function. As I wrote elsewhere in this thread, the equivalent is smoking. There is no healthy "dose" of tobacco smoke.

                                                                      Dr. Lustig actually proposes in that other video that children under the age of 18 be restricted (carded) from buying sugar laden drinks unless they have someone over the age of consent to buy it for them.

                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                        So... Have you taken a look at the rate of obesity, hypertension and so on in other nations? I bring it up, since other nations don't use HFCS, with sugar just being cheaper there.

                                                                        I would recommend you follow that up by taking a look at studies that involve people drinking a lot of fruit juices.

                                                                        A great follow up to that would be a look at the population of tropical areas where fruits make up a big portion of the calorie intake, but the caloric intake is balance with activity.

                                                                        Sugar drinks are bad? I drank them by the gallons as a kid. Also, I have a cookie addiction and (literally) consumed a case of Chips Ahoy! chewy (the red containers) cookies week by week. The thing is, I walked, biked and played outdoors, much like a lot of us did when we were young.

                                                                        1. re: ediblover

                                                                          Sounds like there is an ambiguity in his presentation. He may be specific in saying the fructose is unhealthy, but listeners are hear is 'HFCS is bad'. I suspect that if you asked Dr Lustig directly, he'd say that sugar is just as bad for you. It is less clear whether Servorg would say the same.

                                                                          European countries worry about rising obesity as well, though i don't think the rates are as bad as in the USA. Even in the USA there are regional variations (Mississippi has been highest for some time, Colorado lowest).

                                                                          Not all the sugars in fruits are fructose. I've found tables that break down the sugars for various fruits. Many fruits, including tropical ones, have roughly equal proportions of fructose and glucose, and some are rich in sucrose. Remember the premier source of sucrose is a tropic plant. The ones with highest proportions of fructose are not tropical (apple and pear).

                                                                          1. re: ediblover

                                                                            Dr. Lutig does present a graph from the (so called) "7 Nations" study which showed low rates of obesity and related problems for Japan and Italy and then talked about how that led the nutritionists of the time down the wrong path of believing it was all related to fat consumption. Now the HFCS problem is finally catching up with the Japanese (where it was actually invented) with their trend lines beginning to look like ours evidently.

                                                                            You can't take one isolated case (yourself) and draw any meaningful conclusions. Are you of the opinion they we aren't facing an obesity and a host of associated diseases which stem from the "metabolic syndrome?" That seems well documented in the industrialized part of the world.

                                                            1. I found it well-supported, but difficult to follow through the biochem diagrams (the middle portion of the lecture), and agree with his conclusions. However, I need to watch this again at least another 2 or 3 times.

                                                              It's important to keep in mind, in light of several of the posts here, what Dr. Lustig defined as "toxic" and the way in which he was using the term. He qualifies it in the video.

                                                              41 Replies
                                                              1. re: nooyawka

                                                                "It's important to keep in mind, in light of several of the posts here, what Dr. Lustig defined as "toxic" and the way in which he was using the term. He qualifies it in the video."

                                                                Right. He calls fructose "chronically toxic" rather than "acutely toxic" and basically says that the FDA will not regulate it due to that difference.

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  If he had his way, which sources of fructose would he regulate, and how?

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    That wasn't addressed in the lecture. Only the fact that the FDA declines to regulate "chronic toxins" such as fructose (although he did note that they are taking steps to do so with tobacco in certain ways). So his point at the end was, it's up to us, the consumer to do something about limiting/controlling our intake.

                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                      The OP quotes him as
                                                                      " explains how fructose was developed and introduced to the American public/diet in the 1970's and how it has completely taken over our processed foods. It's use soared in the 80's.... "

                                                                      Did he show a plot like this:


                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        There were a lot of graphs, but not all of them could be discerned clearly due to them being videotaped from a distance. One of the most telling points that he (Dr. Lustig) made was a sudden surge in obesity of 6 month old children (due to the amount of HFCS and sugar that is added to some of the infant formula in our markets) on a worldwide basis.

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          Out of curiosity, I looked at the Similac formula in a grocery. While some formulations do have corn syrup or corn syrup solids, I did not find HFCS in any.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            Corn syrup, corn syrup solids and HFCS are all types of sugar (sucrose) or fructose and glucose (which is no different than sugar when it comes to the human body). Another part of Dr. Lustig's lecture deals with the fact that HFCS , and now in some cases even crystalline fructose, (both of which are sweeter than sugar), are being added at the same ratio of sugar to these food stuffs, making the problem greater in terms of building up a craving for "sweet food".

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              Milk also has a sugar, lactose. Human milk is sweeter than cow milk. Lactose is split by an intestinal enzyme into glucose and galactose. In dairy based formulas lactose is the main sugar.

                                                                              There are also FDA guidelines for infant formula. Did he discuss those?

                                                                              Did he discuss breast feeding rates?

                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                I found a taste test on infant formulas:

                                                                                The reviewers did not like the taste of the formulas, though Similac (with lactose) was the best of the set. But a number of the comments said that breast milk is 'very sweet and tasty'.

                                                                                That calls into question a claim that formula creates a abnormal craving for sweet food. However overfeeding with formula is a potential cause of infant obesity. Due to limited supply it is to overfeed when breast feeding. I also found research that links obesity to early introduction of solid food.

                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  But none of that would explain the epidemic of childhood obesity and the enormous rise of T2D in children, which has never been seen before. Links to obesity because of the introduction to solid food too early are not going to explain the explosion in metabolic disease in kids. It is impossible to ignore all this new (and terribly debilitating) data without looking at the smoking gun of fructose.

                                                                                  Have you finished the video lecture yet? Again, the data and the biochemical science seem VERY compelling. And if the science proves out, tying the word "toxic" to fructose seems like a fair description of the substance, given the physical mayhem being visited upon the children (and adults) in the worlds societies.

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    I can explain it. Or at least I can propose my own hypothesis based on some annecdotal observations.

                                                                                    Some teenagers were houseguests of ours. They ate like nothing i've ever seen. They decimated our cupboards. They ate seconds and thirds. They ate non-stop and then they sat on their asses. They traveled with Pepto Bismol to treat their after-dinner discomfort from over-eating. And you're saying you think they were huge because some of the stuff they were guzzling had fructose in it ? I see a simpler explanation.

                                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                                      I think what Lustig would say is that the reason they were eating like that can largely be traced to the effects of metabolization of high doses of fructose on appetite. But in that example, it does seem likely that there were other contributing factors.

                                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                                        Danna, did you watch the full lecture?

                                                                                        If I recall correctly (I watched it several months ago), Dr. Lustig attributes increased appetite and lower satiety with high levels of fructose consumption.

                                                                                        In other words, the high levels of fructose in virtually all processed food products fuels the frenzy for consuming even more processed foods. It's the old "junk food makes you hungrier" axiom.

                                                                                        Certain people love to scream "personal choice" at the top of their lungs, ignoring all other factors. But consider this- it is the alcoholic's personal choice to drink or not to, just as it is mine. But the difference is that I don't have the same insatiable craving prodding me on to drink that the alcoholic does. There's that invisible brain chemical component driving the behavior that the "personal choice" advocates conveniently ignore.

                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                          Honestly, no. I didn't watch the lecture, mainly because the OP summarized it by saying "fructose was developed the 70's", a statement so ridiculous, I expected the lecture to be more HFCS hysteria.

                                                                                          I quote you below "Consider a 125g apple contains 13g of sugar and 3g of fiber. One 7.5 oz can of Coke contains 25g of sugar (most likely HFCS) and NO fiber. One is, by its very nature, consumed in moderation whereas the other, by its very nature, is not." I think you have NAILED the issue, but we see it differently. To me that means that fructose is not toxic, the way we are consuming it , concentrated, and in vast quantities may be, as is any sugar.

                                                                                          I like Ocamm's razor, and here's my simple explanation: refined sugar is high in calories, calories in excess of what you burn makes fat...and we're done.

                                                                                          1. re: danna


                                                                                            It is not a bad lecture, per sa, but either the viewers oversimplifying his lecture or Lustig did because certain things are over-simplified. Lustig, in short, did not only say HFCS is toxic. He repeatedly said fructose is toxic, thus both HFCS as well as cane sugar (sucrose) are toxic. I think a lot of question is that can we classified sugars as toxins, or should we. I will post a longer response at the end here in a few minutes.

                                                                                            1. re: danna

                                                                                              I'm the OP and I meant HFCS, not fructose, was developed in the 1970's... my apologies.

                                                                                              And to CK, I was summarizing so that those that were interested could chose whether they wanted to invest the time, 90 mins., to view the video. I wanted to say very little about the content so that viewers could form their own opinions. Again, my apologies.


                                                                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                "And to CK, I was summarizing so that those that were interested could chose whether they wanted to invest the time,..."

                                                                                                ?? I was going to ask why you replied to me, then I realize that you probably thought I was talking about you when I wrote that the viewers oversimplifying things. I wasn't talking about you.

                                                                                                In truth, many of his lecture points are not wrong but the conclusions are too generalized in my view. For example, Lutwig said that fructose does not trigger the "fullness" the same way as glucose does. This is true, but I think everyone know that. Glucose triggers GLP-1 release and leptin. That being said, I think it is oversimplying to say that our bodies do not know "fullness" unless you have glucose. Try drinking three glass of water and you will feel fullness, and water has no glucose. The expansion of stomach also triggers fullness too.

                                                                                                I noticed a lot of people after watching Lustig's video say things that are oversimplifying the situation. Originally, I put the reponsibility on Lustig, but then I realize that the blame should not be placed on him alone, so I altered and said that either Lustig oversimplied or the viewers did. Well, someone did. Again, it wasn't a statement targetting you.

                                                                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                  lynn, I suppose I should have figured out that was what you meant. I hope my post didn't sound too harsh. no need to apologize. thanks for starting an interesting thread.

                                                                                                  btw, the teenager in my post above is now a healthy weight , I'm guessing it was grad school in a field that requres a lot of outdoor activity rather that a fructose ephiphany, but whatever it was...I sure am happy for him.

                                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                                    CK & danna, thanks for clarifying. So much is lost in translation sometimes. :)

                                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                People tend to forget that Dr. Lustig is just one scientists who has a certain hypothesis regarding fructose and take his words as the only truth. As with most scientific hypotheses (especially those which blame one compound as the reason for a certain disease which is very unlikely) there are many other scientists who have different hypotheses and their thoughts should also be taken into consideration. I would highly recommend to those who "defend" Lustig's hypothesis to search a little bit in SciFinder or PubMed and read about the numerous scientific publications which are very critical about this hypothesis.

                                                                                                Some examples:

                                                                                                There are many more papers. I am not saying that Lustig's hypothesis is wrong only that so far there is no evidence presented from him that has clear scientific value that he is correct.

                                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                                      One important additional point that Dr. Lustig makes is about where much of the increased childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome is coming from (and adult issues as well). It revolves around the greatly increased consumption of fructose laden drinks, both soft drinks like Coca Cola and Pepsi, but also the incredible explosion of so called fruit drinks and sports drinks, all heavily laden with HFCS or sugar.

                                                                                      He does present a chart of the evolution in the size of Coca Cola, from the original 6.5 oz bottle to the 10 oz, then the 12 oz then the 20 oz plastic bottle of today, along with the Big Gulp drinks in 44 oz (or even larger sizes in some places).

                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                        His last little zinger, after running through the evolution of Coke in terms of size, was when he said another colleague of his at the U of Texas AM at San Antonio (Dr. Dan Hale sp?) said that in that area the 7-11's offer a "Texas" sized drink - a 60 oz serving of cola, along with a Snickers bar and a bag of Doritos's - all for 99 cents...

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                          I hope he has more substantial data than Cola bottle sizes.

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            I found his data and his science compelling. The amount of fructose being delivered (especially to young people and even babies) is nothing short of a monsoon, flooding the food of the world. And the damage being done to our health because of it is pretty damn frightening. Spend the time to watch his lecture and come back and then we can see what you think of the case he makes.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              The size of the coke (or sports drink or fruit drink) is important when you start calculating the additional "sugar" calories and build up of fat in the human body over time. People take what should be more than two and half servings in a 20 oz coke and drink the whole thing in one sitting. This alone, if added in on top of the normal adult diet here in the US, will lead to a weight gain of 25 lbs.

                                                                                              There is another problem with drinking these sweetened drinks in that leptin, the bodies chemical which signals that you have eaten recently and are not in need of additional calories, is not triggered by these drinks as fructose doesn't bring it "online."

                                                                                              This information was all very enlightening and pretty damning when it comes to the problems we are seeing in this country, as well as other industrialized nations on a worldwide basis.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                The claim that fructose does not trigger satiety is frequently made, but has not held up well in testing.
                                                                                                For example
                                                                                                "On balance, the case for fructose being less satiating than glucose or HFCS being less satiating than sucrose is not compelling."

                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                  Even if that holds up the overall health effects are so damnable that limiting the intake seems like a good idea. How else does the observation of obese infants get explained? That one situation is pretty darn compelling.

                                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                  Obviously size matters ;-) but it's the excess calories that make you gain weight. If someone were to drink gallons of EVOO, he'd also put on weight. I've read similar correlation "studies" that compared obesity and fake sugar (in part because of the satiety of the drink) and there are people who believe that. Correlation isn't causation.

                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                    But no one is going to drink gallons of EVOO. Why do the manufacturers of sweetened drinks put all that sugar in there do you think? Why, as Dr. Lustig noted, do cokes contain 55 milligrams of sodium?

                                                                                                    I think if you start looking at the alarming rise in obesity (especially among children) and the rise in bigger and bigger sizes of sugared (including all the various forms of sweeteners here) drinks (soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks) and then put that together with the biochemistry as laid out in Dr. Lustig's presentation you come away pretty darned convinced (at least I did).

                                                                                                    More studies will be done and we can all look at the results. But again, this seems very compelling based on what we see in the real world.

                                                                                                    You can't find obese children swigging gallons of EVOO, but you can find them with a Big Gulp any day of the week exiting the doors of their local 7-11 on the way home from school.

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      I completely agree that it is outrageous what is bought and drunk/eaten in this country. But, I think the problem is the amount, not what is eaten/drunk. Alcohol is toxic but not in the manner most of us drink it (or I assume). I don't vilify alcohol but think the problem is with behavior. Kids drink too much sugary stuff, but they also eat too many chips, pizza, etc. It's excess in too many areas.

                                                                                                      There is a lot that still needs to be studied in this area to draw these big conclusions that fructose is toxic. I know anecdotal evidence doesn't mean anything but what I've seen is:

                                                                                                      1) a lot of endurance athletes drink quick forms of carbs, generally glucose/fructose, often HFCS. While I know many, varying ages, none have developed metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. Not to say it doesn't happen because genetics are a strong factor. OTOH, I know people who've been borderline w/ blood sugar who have become athletes and maintained their blood sugar levels enough that they're no longer borderline.

                                                                                                      2) Everyone I know (and sadly, know quite a few here, too) who has been diagnosed w/ metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes have been overweight/fat, sedentary, have unhealthy lifestyles.

                                                                                                      I think there's more to it all that saying fructose is toxic, as attention grabbing as that sound bite is.

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                        I found that the point made in the lecture about a calorie is not just a calorie when you look at the biochemical breakdown (and where that breakdown occurs) was a revelation to me. It turns out that fructose is only broken down in the liver. And in that breakdown it produces a lot of very damaging effects on the body. Just watch the biochemistry part of the lecture and you'll be more inclined to speak of fructose as having a toxic effect.

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          According to my biochemistry textbook (Voet&Voet, Biochemistry, 3rd ed, p. 618), "There are two pathways for the metabolization of fructose; one occurs in the muscle and the other occurs in liver. This dichotomy results form the different enzymes present in these various tissues. Fructose metabolization in muscle differs little from that of glucose."

                                                                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                            Having only viewed the 90 minute lecture once I dimly recall Dr. Lustig talk about why exercise is important. And that had to do with muscle metabolization. So your point sounds right from what I recall. But if you ff through the lecture to the part when the biochemical processes are discussed you can hear it from an MD who has not only made this his life's work, but is also drawing on other world class scientists at UCSF who specialize in doing the experiments that lead to our understanding of this stuff.

                                                                                                      2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        Just because a drink is available in a 40oz size does not mean that kids (or adults) drink more. 4 10oz drinks would give the same total. I wonder, once you take into account the ice,

                                                                                                        Here's a site that attempts to take into account ice in drinks

                                                                                                3. re: Servorg

                                                                                                  But isn't it the parent's responsibility to NOT give their children sugar-laden drinks? It's not like anyone ever thought that Coca Cola is a health drink for anyone?

                                                                                                  I just don't understand how anyone could not know that stuff is bad for you, especially in huge amounts. It's like a "duh" moment for me. Sorry.

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                    If that were true (and HFCS was not ubiquitous in so many foods) then we wouldn't be seeing the severe health effects on the metabolic systems of our population, leading with children.

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      But it's the parents who are buying HFCS-laden foods for their kids, and it's the parents deciding what goes into their children's mouths. I still don't get it.

                                                                                                      Of course, I also don't understand why every 'processed' food in this country has sugar added to it.

                                                                                                      But you know - how about avoiding those foods, or ingesting them in reasonable, common-sensical amounts.

                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        Just as one for instance. It's a fact that millions of kids at the elementary school level walk to and from school in the morning by themselves or in groups. And those same kids are stopping into convenience stores without any parental approval or control to buy some sort of snack. I think we can all agree that the salty and sweet snack food industry is not going broke anytime soon. So the choices these unsupervised children make are impacting their health, and they won't even know about it until the damage has been done.

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          I still believe it is the parents' responsibility to teach their kids about healthy and not so healthy foods.

                                                                                                          And I say this as someone who has spent most of her childhood unsupervised, as it was way back when I grew up, and used some of that unsupervised time to buy cigarettes at the tender age of 12. Did I know that smoking was bad for you? You betcha.

                                                                                                          If the kids *occasionally* indulge in a sugary drink, that is not a problem. The problem arises when parents are bad examples & indulge in unhealthy dietary habits which is passed on to their offspring.

                                                                                                          Not saying HFCS shouldn't be much less prevalent in ... umm, everything.

                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                            I agree that parents are mostly responsible for teaching their kids to eat properly, but as kids get older it becomes more difficult to control their diets and, living in America, the prevailing culture, reinforced by millions of $ in advertising, is that burgers, fries, soda & the like are normal everyday foods.

                                                                                                            In a comment made to a Mark Bittman column in the NY Times http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/...
                                                                                                            a reader related his family's experience of raising his son in the US, living near a main road populated with the well known fast food joints. At 14, his son was 5'8" & 210 lbs. The reader retired & moved the family to Asia and his son, still eating as he pleased and what was readily available, grew as a 23 yr old, to 6'1" and weighed 165 lbs. No special dieting. In both locations, the son was just eating as the natives ate.

                                                                                                            The atmosphere one lives in greatly influences their choices. In the US, that atmosphere is not so healthy. Dr. Robert Lustig's lecture provides some small measure of counterbalance to that atmosphere.

                                                                                      2. Humans are primates. Primates are unable to synthesize vitamin C. The main source of vitamin C in most diets is fruit; this is why primates are generally big fruit-eaters. In other words, our ancestors have been eating fruit whenever they could get it over a very long period of evolutionary time. Most fruits contain fructose. It seems very unlikely that our bodies don't have good mechanisms for dealing with a substance that has been, if not an obligate part of our diet, then a very consistent part of our ancestors' diet for 40 million years (give or take).

                                                                                        I haven't seen the lecture, but I've read the NY Times article, and it seems to me that the takeaway is much the same as the common wisdom about sugar: that it's okay in small amounts, in unprocessed or minimally-processed foods. It's when you start drinking it or consuming massive amounts of it that it starts to be a problem. To quote: "How much of this stuff do we have to eat or drink, and for how long, before it does to us what it does to laboratory rats?... Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to learn anything conclusive in the near future. As Lustig points out, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are certainly not “acute toxins” of the kind the F.D.A. typically regulates and the effects of which can be studied over the course of days or months. The question is whether they’re “chronic toxins,” which means “not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.” This means that what Tappy calls “intervention studies” have to go on for significantly longer than 1,000 meals to be meaningful." In other words, we don't know how much is too much. I already knew that we didn't know that before reading this article.

                                                                                        Remember, everything has an LD50.

                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: jlafler

                                                                                          Lustig does address why eating fruit is not nearly as damaging from the standpoint of ones health when it comes to the fructose it contains in his lecture. And if you look at the number of children developing metabolic disorders at younger and younger ages (and not just in the US, but other countries as well) you are going to have to say something is going on. Lustig paints a very convincing picture that that "something" is fructose, delivered in many, many processed food stuffs, but especially in sweetened beverages.

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            I think there's a big leap from there to say that fructose is a toxin. As I said, everything has an LD50. If you drink too much water, it'll kill you; but most people would not describe water as a toxin in the sense that the word is commonly meant.

                                                                                            1. re: jlafler

                                                                                              It appears to be toxic to ones liver. It's biochemical breakdown as presently understood points in that direction (if you believe in the science as reported here). I'm certain more studies will clear up the matter at some point in the future. In the meantime, if the results that are being seen in children with regard to obesity, type2D, and heart disease are directly attributable to fructose then, whatever you want to term it, a prudent parent would want to limit its availability to their kids, even if they don't overly worry about the impact it is having on their own well being.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                I don't disagree that sugars need to be limited. I dilute my daughter's apple juice, one part juice to three parts water. But when someone throws around words like "toxic," it sounds more like zealotry than science, especially when even Lustig admits that fructose isn't an "acute toxin."

                                                                                                As for the science, I'd rather see it in a peer-reviewed paper or papers than in a video.

                                                                                                1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                  It's hard to read the footnotes and dig through the citations of a video!

                                                                                          2. re: jlafler

                                                                                            The fruits that early man ate are VERY different than what's found today. Everything is a hybrid, bred to be sweeter. Sugar is nutritionally worthless and you can get along very well without it. It's funny to me how my favorite fruits--berries and peaches--are also the lowest in sugars. But I only eat them when they're in season locally lest I wreak havoc on myself.

                                                                                            1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                              Fructose is fructose. But it doesn't make sense to talk about "toxicity" without some notion of dose.

                                                                                              1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                But Lustig does discuss dose and the fact that what the tipping point is is not yet known; he cites two figures but no firm basis for those guidelines. In addition, he's talking about added, not fructose in unprocessed foods.

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  His (Lustig's) example in the biochemistry portion of the lecture follows a glass of orange juice containing 120 calories (60 of those come from glucose and 60 of those come from fructose). He proceeds to show that, while the glucose gets broken down both within the liver and outside the liver on an 80/20 split (80% gets used outside the liver and 20% -so only 12 calories get into the liver for processing). On the other hand he says (and he is very firm about this so I doubt he is getting the science wrong) that ALL 60 calories of the fructose go into the liver to be processed. Why that is important, (according to Lustig) is because of something called "substrates" which break down into some very bad stuff for our health. Uric acid being one, which causes gout and hypertension.

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    Not to mention triglycerides, the single most predictive lipid (not LDL) for insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      A substrate is just the molecule that an enzyme binds in order to catalyze some sort of reaction. It could be almost anything. Our bodies metabolize a lot of molecules, and almost every metabolic substrate or product can feed into or come out of multiple metabolic pathways, depending on what is available and/or needed by the organism.

                                                                                                      But I'm not saying he's wrong about the effects of fructose. I've now done a small amount of poking around online, and I've found a number of papers discussing fructose metabolism and high fructose consumption and their impact on all sorts of health problems, including diabetes, e.g. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com....

                                                                                                      But I have a visceral negative reaction to the word "toxic" (unless you're talking about something like Botox) and to video lectures posted on the internet (no matter how credible the source).

                                                                                                      1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                        A visceral negative reaction to something intelligent being posted on the Internet leaves no room for anything other than the garbage that is rapidly pushing out all other content. And that would be a true shame.

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          Maybe. I'm just saying that, for me, something I can read and thoroughly evaluate has more impact than a video lecture.

                                                                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                            Then go read a copy of Taubes book "Good Calories, Bad Calories." Pure science.

                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                              I've read some of Taubes' articles, not the book. He's not a scientist, but he does seem to understand the science pretty well.

                                                                                            2. I've read all the back and forth, and the questions that come to my mind are:

                                                                                              1) For those who believe fructose is toxic, should the FDA deem it as such?

                                                                                              2) If it is deemed toxic by the FDA, would you like see regulations banning it from food completely, as well as banning naturally fructose-containing food from consumption?

                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: josquared

                                                                                                The FDA will never do that. What might be nice is if the government raised the level of awareness and used that in a campaign to get consumers to let the manufacturers know that they won't be used as test subjects without some sort of backlash. And if you take the time to watch the lecture by Dr. Lustig you will hear him address the fact that consuming naturally occurring fructose in fruit (for example) is not nearly as damaging as getting it in some sort of sweetened drink.

                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                  I think sugar in any form is dangerous, especially considering how inactive the general public is. High consumption will overwork the pancreas and eventually lead to insulin resistence/diabetes when your beta cells are constantly pumping out insulin. 1 in 3 americans will eventually develop diabetes some time in their life. That is scary.

                                                                                                  But is Fructose more dangerous than table sugar? The way Dr. Lustig comes up with these conclusions is really suspect. And I haven't seen any reputable study to suggest that it is.

                                                                                                  Furthermore, the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association (both reputable organizations that tend to get it right 99% of the time), really don't see it as being more harmful that ordinary sugar.

                                                                                                  Off topic, but why do we put so much faith in individual "experts" yet we have such a mistrust of actually organizations that smartly and appropriately base their statements on empirical evidence and review of reputable studies? When I ask this, I get the response, "We'll OF COURSE they have to say that. The corporations are obviously paying them off." I just want to pull out my hair.

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    I didn't ask if the FDA would or wouldn't, I asked basically if anyone who think fructose is toxic does believe the FDA (or any government agency with a say in this matter) declare it as such.

                                                                                                    If it IS the most dangerous thing and widespread thing being consumed out there, I would presume one would want it at least regulated akin to tobacco products (which are perhaps even more chronic exposure dangerous but the usage isn't as widespread anymore, at least in the United States by my guesstimates - can't vouch for world-wide usage).

                                                                                                    And I took from the thread already that Dr. Lustig shows naturally occurring fructose was less dangerous than the stuff in sweetened drinks, but still it is damaging to an extent, correct? One could easily go from there and set limits on fructose-containing foods, similar to recommended limits on fish consumption from particular bodies of water with known contaminants.

                                                                                                    1. re: josquared

                                                                                                      Dr. Lustig makes the point that the FDA will never declare fructose a toxin, or regulate it as such, because one of the last remaining mega exports of the US is food (fast food included). That means that we earn money to offset the growing imbalance of our shrinking exports to rapidly growing imports (and which consequently sends a whole lot of HFCS to the far reaches of the world).

                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        What's 'a whole lot of HFCS'? Can you give any dollar values, especially compared to the value of other exports (including unprocessed corn)?

                                                                                                        has corn production and usage statistics for 2010

                                                                                                        Note - bushels of corn used to produce HFCS has has had a slight decline over the past decade, amount to 3.8% of total corn usage. USA is the biggest exporter of corn (and corn products), about 55%, but exports amount to less than 15% of the USA production. Corn exports have not mushroomed over the past 2 decades.

                                                                                                        Something that is worth repeating - tariffs on foreign sugar keep the USA price of sugar above that in most other countries. That is a big part of why HFCS use grew in the USA - largely at the expense of sugar consumption. While the combine sugar and HFCS consumption in the USA has grown since 1970, the growth has not been explosive, and has actually shown some decline in recent years.

                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                          No dollar figures but the extrapolation is based on the amount of obesity and heart disease and hypertension and T2D that we are seeing in places on the receiving end of our food exports and fast food franchises.

                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                            Are you assuming that they are getting fat because of all the HFCS we send them, and that we send them a lot of HFCS because they are getting fat?

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              I'm assuming that the same issues that have led to our metabolic syndrome has led to theirs.

                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                And HFCS Big Gulps are clearly the cause of 'our metabolic syndrome'?

                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                  Watch the video in its entirety and then come back and tell me what you think of the science and the rationale as laid out by Dr. Lustig. I have no dog in this fight, other than finding the presentation to be very compelling. More data will be produced, I'm sure and the proof will indeed be in the fructose sweetened pudding.

                                                                                                        2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          I have enough common sense to gather that the FDA will NOT declare fructose a toxin anytime soon.

                                                                                                          I know first hand about evils of too much sugar, or for that matter, over-consumption of food in general. I literally became half the man I used to be by changing my eating habits. I avoid HFCS when at all possible and have no real desire for the processed sweet treats and sodas I used to gobble down as a kid. But I still indulge a bit here and there, whether it's a sweet home recipe dessert, some gourmet ice cream, or whatever.

                                                                                                          I have seen some of the materials and I think some of his ideas do have merit, which then leads to the question of whether what he proposes (declaring fructose an actual toxin and other ancillary things, like in one ABC News interview he states that we should "card kids for Coke") should actually be the reality?

                                                                                                          But if the whole idea is the FDA (or whatever agency) isn't going to let that happen anyway, then all this discussion seems to be boil down to is the finer points (does fructose really fit the definition of a toxin; how does fructose compare to other forms of sugar, etc.) and the general admonition that several others have stated and that I believe myself - for most people, moderation is key.

                                                                                                          1. re: josquared

                                                                                                            Any ban would have to specify whether it is applies only to pure fructose, to a fructose-glucose solution (and what ratio is allowed), and whether fructose loosely bound with glucose (ie. sucrose) is allowed. Products that might be affected include HFCS, honey, sugar, invert sugar (Golden Syrup), and molasses, as well as beverages and baked goods made with these items.

                                                                                                  2. I think this is about to reach the insanity point.

                                                                                                    Why do so many seem to think that this Lustig is the only expert in the world? Does everyone believe that the folks on the FDA panel are nothing but bias morons instead of being intelligent people in their fields who have a serious respect for being gatekeepers? Is your personal physician in on this too? Because, I'm betting you'll hear, "I think we should work on eating in moderation and exercising more," from your local professionals.

                                                                                                    Where are the food lovers? The ones that will say, "I like this food and since it won't kill me on the spot (Please, no mention of fugu, questionable mushrooms and so on) I'll enjoy it!" Where's the enjoyment in denying yourself good food? Because, sweets are awesome.

                                                                                                    Do those who buy into this guy... Well, you're probably an expert in something. Remember those moments when you're trying to explain your field to a novice? It can be frustrating. Are you sure that you're in a situation to properly evaluate this guy's message? Are you sure that you just don't WANT to believe in him?

                                                                                                    It's just insane. People are tossing aside the golden truth of moderation and exercise and favoring things that ask them to point fingers and denying themselves what they crave. Me, since I'm on chow and all, I'll go for the good food. Because, that makes me happy.

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: ediblover

                                                                                                      We all have an interest in this subject, even if we don't individually have any (current observable) health problems with consuming fructose. That interest comes from the cost to our health insurance industry and their propensity/need to spread the cost of paying out benefits to doctors and the biopharmaceutical industry as they try and cope with what is a rising crisis from metabolic illness.

                                                                                                      As Lustig points out at the beginning of his lecture (when he greets one of his colleagues in the back of the room and notes that he <Lustig> is very interested in coming back to hear that guy's lecture on the "genetic" component of what is going on with this crisis) there must be wide variations in peoples susceptibility to getting sick from fructose intake.

                                                                                                      That only makes sense. After all, (just as an example) there are actually some very small subset of individuals who are "immune" from getting HIV due to some rare lack of a receptor on the surface of their T-cells (if I'm recalling the science correctly) that prevents the HIV from "latching" on and invading their cells.

                                                                                                      But to ignore the huge wave of younger and younger individuals (children) getting sick from all these metabolic related issues (Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension and a host of others that have been noted here - along with becoming so obese that their quality of life suffers in just trying to get up and get to school or work or what have you) is no longer possible.

                                                                                                      So, (not only Lustig) some very smart doctors and scientists are looking to see WHY this is happening. What has changed? And they are finding more and more evidence of sugar being behind the problem. Is it settled yet? No. Do you look at the evidence and say "Man, this is very convincing?" I do. As many others do. If you don't, that's fine.

                                                                                                      Finally, if you think that the FDA is not fallible then take a look at how long it has taken them to do something about tobacco. There is a substance that has been KNOWN to be toxic (a poison) for a LONG time and yet what has the FDA done about it and how long has it taken them?

                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        Reading Taubes article, one thing that I agree with Lustig on is "high fructose corn syrup, sugar, -no difference." Unfortunately I think people see the headline and think HFCS -bad, sugar -good.

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          Very good post Servorg.

                                                                                                          AND it is especially important to be paying attention to (what I consider) "red flag" foods if you are feeding children. Everyone is getting concerned about their health and the diseases and conditions just not found like this a short decade or two ago. Increasingly, the evidence points to our food- the types of foods, preparation, manufacturing, processing, additives, popularities and trends. Certainly sugar (in its various forms) is not the only factor, but it is a big one. I think it is silly to not pay attention to "red flag" foods and how they might effect you and your loved ones that you cook for. You can't eliminate everything where a red flag has been thrown...but you can have some common sense and think about limiting it, substituting it, or eliminating it for a prescribed period to see if it helps your health. If you are an adult making choices for the health of your children, I think it's an obligation to pay attention.

                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                            Yes. Common sense is widely underrated. Don't OD on processed foods, sugars, etc.

                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                              It's possible to be careful about what you eat and what you feed your kids, and still be skeptical about the specific claim that fructose is toxic.

                                                                                                              1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                Sure it is- as long as you are also skeptical of the claim that fructose is harmless. That is my point about considering some foods as "red flag" foods, ones that you need to be concerned about. There are many of them -and I wish more parents were paying attention.

                                                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                  "Fructose is toxic" and "fructose is harmelss" are not the only possible claims. I tend to the opinion that "fructose is harmful in large doses, especially in liquid form." The problem, of course, is just what constitutes a "large dose."

                                                                                                            2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                              Except look at how many are treating all this as absolute.

                                                                                                              The statement about tobacco reminded me of a recent journal article that said that exercise and diet is better at losing weight than only one of the two. "Duh," everyone thinks, and for good reasons too. We know that. But, part of science is repeatability (over and over). Even today there are studies being conducted on the negative aspects of tobacco and all its contents.

                                                                                                              Rinse and repeat. That's pretty much the scientific method. And, it falls on death's ears to the majority of the public when they hear something they want to hear.

                                                                                                              I liken all this to all the praise that recent cookbook got. You know, the thing that no one can even lift. Really, what good is a cookbook when most people can't even make the food inside? What good is a study when most can't understand/see the big picture?

                                                                                                          2. I just want to comment that Servorg has done an absolutely incredible job replying to all the naysayers in this thread -- most of whom obviously haven't taken the time either to watch the video or to read the NY Times article (the latter of which I did), and yet continue to try to debate Servorg on the topic (and going off on irrelevant tangents that prove they didn't first read/watch the media being discussed at hand) and firing aggressive questions at him as if he himself were Taubes or Lustig! Incredible. Servorg, not only am I on your side on this topic (which I never would have imagined before reading the awfully compelling article), you have my eternal respect for maintaining such a civil and intelligent and focused level of discourse!

                                                                                                            32 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                              I can't begin to tell you how heartening your post was when I came to it this morning. I can only say thank you. I appreciate your kind thoughts more than I can say.

                                                                                                              My secret wish throughout this entire thread was that Dr. Lustig was going to somehow get wind of it and take over. That would mean I would stop making so many errors when writing about my understanding of his work and that it would get me out of the layman trying to understand biochemistry business... ;-D>

                                                                                                              I actually watched the video lecture a second time and realized that I had replied to a couple of points without recalling that Dr. Lustig HAD covered those points in his lecture. One was the point raised about why sports drinks use HFCS if it is so bad for us. Dr. Lustig had said that for "elite" athletes the combination of fructose and glucose actually replaces the glycogen stores in the livers of world class athletes faster than glucose alone. The problem, as Dr. Lustig then notes is that most of these drinks are being consumed by overweight children who are already struggling with obesity and metabolic syndrome.

                                                                                                              The second point was in reference to fructose being broken down ONLY in the liver. Someone had written that one of their biochemistry text books said that it was also broken down in the muscles. On my second watching of the biochemistry portion of Dr. Lustig's lecture I am almost certain that he said that, while all fructose goes into the liver, some small amount comes back out (after most of it has been converted in all those various substances which are so damaging to our bodies) and goes into our muscles. IIRC that particular process can lead to a type of insulin resistance in our muscles, which is also a very damaging problem when it happens.

                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                Dr Lustig did appear on the comments on http://www.alanaragonblog.com/
                                                                                                                A summary of the the 300+ comments is here

                                                                                                                Note the date for that blog, more than a year ago. We aren't the first ones do notice Dr Lustig's lecture.

                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                  I went through probably 60% of all of the comments and all of the longer back and forth between Alan and some of the posters/commentators toward the end of the blog comments section. Lots more data needed obviously to find out who is right (or should I say "who is most right?"). But I still come back to the discussion in Lustig's presentation talking about obese 6 month old children. Why? What is going on? What has changed about their diets that is causing this? I keep coming back to the slide that Lustig presented for the make up of Isomil and how much HFCS and sugar were added. As he called it "a baby milkshake" - But I'll keep an open mind and see what the scientific community finds as more and more data and testing is done. We don't seem to getting any slimmer from what I see. Looks like lots of test subjects will be available for future scientists to work with...

                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                    Why did he pick Isomil as an example? Is the Similac's biggest seller, or because it uses non-dairy sweeteners (it is their soy based formula)? I'd like to see a breakdown of sweeteners in formula.

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      The only example provided was Isomil and Lustig had a chart breaking down the ingredients by %. HFCS was the largest ingredient by far (IIRC it was around 43%). Then there was additional sugar at around 10%.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                        Are you sure it was HFCS, not corn syrup or corn syrup solids?

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          Maybe it was corn syrup. I'm trying to recall one fact after 2 days and my recollection is fuzzy. Is there a qualitative difference between these? My (admittedly) superficial reading on the subject seemed to indicate that they were the same thing by different names?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                            Corn syrup solids are corn syrup with most of the water removed. In powder form it is the glucose powder use in confectionary.


                                                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                  Agreed with buttermarblepopcorn - way to hold it down, Servorg.

                                                                                                                  I've resisted the urge to comment on this thread, mostly because I knew I would eventually just start flaming at the posts where people rant against the topic title without having watched the video, my posts eventually pushing the thread along towards being shut down.

                                                                                                                  You've presented the points made in Lustigs video patiently and well and without hyperbole. Props.

                                                                                                                3. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                  I totally agree. I just signed off when I saw the straw men and ininformed posts and was so glad to see servorg carry the banner with far more patience than I can muster any more.

                                                                                                                  1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                    +2 - I have been gone for a few days and just checked in and I had the EXACT same thoughts as you expressed here in your post. I too tip my hat to Servorg.

                                                                                                                    1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                      I don't know if I'm one of the "uninformed" commenters you were talking about, but I have now listened to the whole lecture, taking notes, and I have a few comments on it. Although I am not prepared to eat a whole lot of crow, I did find it a lot more interesting than I expected. Still, my basic observation is that in this talk, Lustig is not speaking as a scientist; he’s speaking as an advocate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it does mean that he’s employing some hyperbole. It’s a persuasive talk, as long as you assume that all of the data he presents is valid, but I find it frustrating when the data go by so fast. (Example: that chart on the correlation between small, dense LDL and CHO in diet. Where does this data come from?) He makes a strong circumstantial case that fructose, in excess, especially in liquid form, is detrimental to health. If he had stopped there, I would have no beef with him. But he also repeatedly states that fructose (unqualified) is toxic, and of this I am not convinced. On the other hand, the idea that sugar in liquid form is particularly unhealthy isn’t exactly new, so I’m not sure what I’ve gained from this except a little more insight into the differences between fructose and glucose metabolism.

                                                                                                                      I did find a few misstatements (aside from the booboo about Rossini writing “The Marriage of Figaro”). For example, he does say, flatly, “only the liver can metabolize fructose” (about 57 minutes in, if you want to check). But most of these inaccuracies can be chalked up to simplifying for a non-expert audience. I did find one thing that I thought at first was a serious mistake, but I eventually concluded that he was saying something correct, but in a very muddled way. The problem is that this would probably only register if you’ve studied metabolic pathways and knew enough to say “hey, wait a minute...” I’m not sure it’s worth going into, but it’s at about 100 minutes into the lecture, if you want to go look up what I’m talking about, and compare what he says about fructose 1,6-bisphosphate and the production of xylulose with these schematics of the glycolytic pathway (http://staff.jccc.edu/PDECELL/cellres...) and the pentose phosphate pathway (http://image.wistatutor.com/content/r... ). Note that the transformation of glucose to fructose 1,6-bisphosphate is a step in glycolysis, which is one of the most basic metabolic pathways, and that you can get to xylulose from either end of the pentose phosphate pathway. All of which is mainly to illustrate that this is very complex stuff, and if you don’t have the background to evaluate it, you have to pretty much take what he says on faith.

                                                                                                                      He also rubs me the wrong way in a number of places in his assumptions about his audience, which seem pretty patronizing. Actually, yes, my undergraduate biology education does allow me to understand most of the biochemistry in the talk. And my daughter has never tasted Coke, but if she asks, I do let her taste my glass of wine, on the theory that it’s better to demystify it. Whatever. This is a purely emotional reaction, and only relevant in that it underscores the fact that this is a talk with an agenda.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                        I think I agree and disagree with almost every post in this thread in some way. Servorg and mcf, thanks much for the patient counter-counter. I'm quite appalled at the creation of baby milkshakes. I agree with the biochemistry of the articles, but some of the attitude I disagree with.

                                                                                                                        Saying that sugar is toxic, is like saying that nutmeg is a powerful hallucinogen. They're quite true and verifiable. I've never treated the nutmeg the same way I would treat lsd though. In the small doses needed for custards, it won't have any psychoactive effect. It's not illegal; there's no social stigma.

                                                                                                                        Sugar has negative side effects. Saying that it has no positive side effects seems so false though. Aside from the taste, calories from sugar will keep someone from starving. I would consider the prevention of death, a positive impact on my life. Fruits are one of my favorite snack foods, and they will probably continue to be. The point being made in the article seems to be that I'm committing a sin whenever I eat and or let someone eat sweets.

                                                                                                                        I need to read more before I post more. See you all in the future.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Altarbo

                                                                                                                          But nobody eats nutmeg the way people are eating sugar today. And in the NYT article, it is pointed out that the natural sugar in fruit is not the same, it is not nearly as bad, as the sugar added to processed foods.

                                                                                                                          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                                                                                                            I think that may be what I take issue to. Used in moderation what are the terrible side effects of fructose and sucrose? If people were just getting their sugar from fruits/milk/etc how much smaller would its impact be?

                                                                                                                            I'm fully aware that sorrel is toxic in large doses, but I continue to use it as an occasional herb. On a biological level, I think I'm almost entirely in agreement with Lustig. I think his speech has been fascinating and the NY Times article fascinating. I don't think eating fruit is sin, I don't think feeding your children fruit is a sin, and I don't think sugar should be restricted.


                                                                                                                            Sorry, I guess he just _really_ rubs me the wrong way.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Altarbo

                                                                                                                              Many of his scientific statements are not wrong. Like him, I also think that the harms of fat are overstated and the harms of sugar are understated. I also agree with him that the effect of high frustose corn syrup is not that different than table sugar, so converting high frustose corn syrup back to table sugar is not going to reverse our health trend. Yet, I think he exaggerated quiet a bit. He made it almost sound like the our bodies cannot handle fructose whatsoever and that fructose is the single problem.

                                                                                                                              Lustig threw the responsibility to some unknown identities. There are several things which he said with confidence which are over-simplified. He said that we eat more because there are more fructose and that our bodies do not feel full and therefore we do not stop to eat. Well, how about we eat more because our size portion has increased. Studies have shown that people tend to eat more when the serving size is larger and eat less when the serving size is smaller. You give a person a 8 oz coke and he will finish it. You give him a 16 oz coke and he will also try to finish that. In other words, we try to finish whatever we have on the plate or in our hand.

                                                                                                                              About the baby bottle formula. His argument is that we have more fat babies because they are drinking these formula milk which have fructose. Well, there are two counterpoints. First, parents have a tendency to overfeed babies with a bottle. A baby may drink half a bottle of formula milk and turn his head away to signal he is full, the parent often force the baby to finish the bottle. This does not happen for breastfeeding. Second, the percentage of baby which are being breastfed have increased since 1970's. In other words, fewer babies drink formula milk today than in 1970:


                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                Yes, I forgot to mention the issue of other factors influencing how much we eat that don't have anything to do, strictly speaking, with physical appetite. This is one of my favorite studies on that subject:


                                                                                                                                To summarize the abstract: the people in the study ate more candy if it was close by and/or visible than if it was farther away and out of sight.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                  :) Thanks. I remember hearing things about a study like this, but never have the chance to read it. Yes, I think there are several studies which showed that people has a tendency to consume everything they see. So the more food is provided, the more they eat. They are not necessary hungry, but they will reach for the foods. I think that is actually very normal and in many ways it is a very vital behavior for our ancestor survival when foods are sacred.

                                                                                                                                  Here is an abstract of the effect of serving size. To quote the results:

                                                                                                                                  "Portion size significantly influenced energy intake at lunch (P < 0.0001). Subjects consumed 30% more energy (676 kJ) when offered the largest portion than when offered the smallest portion. The response to the variations in portion size was not influenced by who determined the amount of food on the plate or by subject characteristics such as sex, body mass index, or scores for dietary restraint or disinhibition. "


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    While I was looking for that study, I found an interesting review paper on eating as an automatic behavior: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

                                                                                                                                    I was familiar with many of the studies cited in it, but what really struck me was the discussion of automatic behavior and how we perceive it, especially that a) automatic behavior can be controlled temporarily, but this takes a lot of effort and can tax the ability to do other things, and b) people tend not to perceive automatic behavior as automatic, but rather come up with "reasons to explain their behaviors, typically choosing the most plausible, culturally acceptable theories." We like to think that we're in control of our behavior (except when it suits us not to be). Thin people like to think that their thinness is due to their own virtue; fat people like to think that they can lose weight if they just try a little harder. And this is one reason people will get up in arms about the government "telling me what to eat" by regulating this or that.

                                                                                                                                    It also strikes me that Dr. Lustig says something a little self-contradictory about the effect of environment on eating. Near the beginning, he seems to dismiss the influence of food availability on eating habits. At about 8:00 minutes, he says "No question, we're all eating more. The question is, why? How come? Because it's all there? You know what, it was there before." But then he clearly sees an environmental explanation for why people drink larger quantities of sweet drinks: it's available, portion sizes have increased, and it's being marketed particularly to children.

                                                                                                                                    In any case, if you think about eating as, at least partially, an automatic behavior, it highlights the importance of teaching good eating habits to children.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                      I do think eating is very much an automatic behavior at least for most people. Sure, if you are intentionally trying to lose weigh, eating may not be very automatic because you are paying attention. However, for most people, we have a tendancy to eat what is in front of us and what is avaliable. When I was a grad student, I was very poor, or at least I thought of myself very poor. I often had long experiments to run and got stuck in lab. So I would go out and buy a huge hamburger from Rally's with no soft drink. No soft drink because I want to save money. I would then eat half of that huge hamburger for lunch and then the other half for dinner. Why buy one big hamburger instead of two smaller ones? Because it is cheaper. I never had the "fructose craving" and uncontrollable eat one hamburgers after another. I lost small amount of weight during that time. I am not denying that many people crave for foods. In fact, I know people do, but the real reason people eat more is because they can afford more, not because they crave more or because they are starving. I never felt that I have to rob people for more hamburgers because I crave for another hamburger. The craving is not that strong. By the way, I used to go on fasting and I would fast 3-days straight (water is acceptable) At the end of the third day, I would get so hungry that I would actual want to rob for food.

                                                                                                                                      Yes, I think Lustig has contradicted himself in the cases he mentioned. On one hand, he stated that food abundance is not the reason for obseity, but then later he suggested the increase in food portion (like Coke) is a major contribution for obesity. Food abundance is of course a problem, so I agree with him on his second point. The statement of "Food was always there" is false. Food was never this cheap. McDonald wasn't that cheap.

                                                                                                                                      The argument that soft drink and McDonald etc cause us to eat more is questionable. If it is really true that the fructose is so addicting that it causes people to eat non-stop, then how comes it is happening now and not in 1970's. There was Coke in 1970's and there was McDonald in 1970's. In fact, way before 1970's. So people in the 1970 somehow have stronger resistance against the Coke and McDonald addiction, and somehow we lost that resistance response.

                                                                                                                                      While I do think eating is an automatic behavior. I also think it is automatic when we don't think about it. We would grab a cake in front of us as long as we don't feel full or we think it will do harm. We won't think much about. However, it is not so automatic that we have no control. This is why a diabetic patient can alter his diet. It is not to the point of uncontrollable behavior. This is why I think it is very important to teach good eating habits to children.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                        If I thought eating was a *completely* automatic behavior, I think I'd have to turn in my Chowhound membership card! More later, just wanted to say that.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                    Added to which, the more variety people are given, the more they tend to eat and our grocery stores offer a plethora of junk food.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      Yes, I think that's a big part of it, too. We're omnivores -- we like to sample the environment.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    His focus on sugar (and fructose in particular) as opposed to fat may be the key area where Lustig parts ways with many other doctors. The USDA data suggests that fat consumption has increased more than sugar consumption in the past 40 years.

                                                                                                                                    I looked up the calorie count for a burger, fries and soda.
                                                                                                                                    gives numbers for Wopper with cheese, large fries and large soda. Total is 1800 calories, 990, 500, 300 for the 3 parts. With a little math I've estimated that 830 calories are from fat, 760 from carbs (bun, potato, drink sugar).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj


                                                                                                                                      I don't disagree with Lustig's asseration that we, as a soceity, are consuming too much sugar, but that is far his main point. Everyone know overconsumption of sugar is bad. His real argument is that sugar is toxic, which may or may not be correct, but sure need to be examined. As for fat, like you said, Lutwig pretty much suggested that fat is in fact good, so that is also interesting.

                                                                                                                                  4. re: Altarbo

                                                                                                                                    "Used in moderation what are the terrible side effects of fructose and sucrose?"

                                                                                                                                    If it is as Lustig claims and fructose/junk food consumption triggers addictive behavior and lower satiety, then "used in moderation" argument becomes considerably less relevant.

                                                                                                                                    Consuming natural fruit *is* fructose in moderation. It's a tiny amount of sugar along with a large dosage of fiber.

                                                                                                                                    Consider a 125g apple contains 13g of sugar and 3g of fiber. One 7.5 oz can of Coke contains 25g of sugar (most likely HFCS) and NO fiber. One is, by its very nature, consumed in moderation whereas the other, by its very nature, is not.

                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                      But that's exactly what I'm saying. I love fruits, even sugary fruits like apples and mangoes. I'm not saying a coke is even remotely good for ones well being.

                                                                                                                              2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                "But he also repeatedly states that fructose (unqualified) is toxic, and of this I am not convinced."


                                                                                                                                IMO, the question of whether fructose is toxic (granting for the sake of argument that the rest of Lustig's presentation and suppositions are true) boils down to semantics. And frankly, it's the least interesting of the many questions raised by his presentation. It does, however, make for attention-grabbing headlines.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                  In toxicology, there's a principle that "the dose makes the poison." Generally, we refer to substances as toxins if they're toxic at very low levels, e.g. Botox. By referring to fructose as a toxin, he's being deliberately provocative. That's a reasonable rhetorical approach if you think the issue is vital, which he clearly does; as I said above, he's speaking as an advocate. I just think that we, in responding to his lecture, need to take that into account.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                    My real point was that I hope his obvious advocacy didn't undermine the meat of his presentation, which I found to be much more substantial and reasonable and compelling than the attention-grabbing and discussion-derailing sound bite would lead us to expect.

                                                                                                                                    I work, in part, in toxicology, and I'm very familiar with the terminology. I just don't find the distinction very interesting as Dr. Lustig is obviously (err... obvious to those who've watched the video) not trying to convince anyone that fructose is dangerously toxic/lethal at small doses or with acute ingestion.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                      Ah, I get it. Yes, I agree. Unfortunately, since most people will not read in depth on this, and most people also will not sit through the entire 90-minute lecture, then the sound bite becomes more important than it should be.

                                                                                                                                2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                  That's a well stated post. While I don't have the same strong biology background as you, I have taken enough classes in college that I could have had a minor in both bio and chem, though not biochem, that I can understand it, but it takes a lot of effort to recall it all (added to which biology has come a long way since those dark days).

                                                                                                                                  I don't think anyone thinks sugar is good for you, especially in doses people are eating today. The sticking point is the extreme sound bite about fructose being toxic. There seems to be this dichotomy between any amount of sugar will kill you (not talking about people w/ blood sugar problems), or you're drinking 32 oz of big gulps any chance you get. This whole discussion could be about a number of things, actually everything: alcohol, salt, fats,etc.. Well, actually, there are discussions about the healthfulness of all that we eat, for the most part.

                                                                                                                              3. http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2006/10/7103...

                                                                                                                                "Q. Dr. Lustig, I heard you on KQED and was quite impressed by the information regarding sugar. I am wondering, are more "natural" or less processed forms of sugar such as maple syrup or honey a more healthy way to sweeten things? Or are they equivalent to white sugar?

                                                                                                                                A. White sugar is sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose (fruit sugar). Although glucose generates an insulin response (and therefore promotes deposition of energy into fat and weight gain right after a meal), fructose is the really bad actor. Fructose is like "alcohol without the buzz." It poisons your liver, and makes it insulin resistant; therefore, your pancreas makes even more insulin to make the liver work properly. This forces energy into fat all the time. Maple syrup and honey are just glucose. While caloric and insulin generating (therefore obesogenic), they don't have fructose to damage the liver and promote insulin resistance. So, although not perfect, they would be better than sucrose."

                                                                                                                                "Maple syrup and honey are just glucose." -- Is this an accurate quote?

                                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                  ""Maple syrup and honey are just glucose." -- Is this an accurate quote?"

                                                                                                                                  Seeing as how he is a board certified MD in Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology I doubt it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                    According to the USDA nutrient database, honey has more fructose than sucrose, but maple syrup is almost all sucrose in terms of sugar.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                      Why? Does being a board certified MD mean that he never makes mistakes?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                        He, (and all doctors) make mistakes at times. But even if he misspoke in this interview (and the mistake is not in the transcription of his remarks), I am certain that he knows what maple syrup and honey are made up of, chemically speaking. Any board certified Pediatric Endocrinologist would know.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                          It's hard for me to imagine how this could be a mis-transcription (unless it was deliberate), because it's not like you could change the meaning by changing one or two words.

                                                                                                                                          I'm sure that, if he didn't know at the time he made those remarks, he does know now, because somebody would have corrected him. And anybody can misspeak, so I don't think it's that big a deal.

                                                                                                                                          Most medical schools do a poor job of covering nutrition, and as he points out in his lecture (to which I've now listened), the medical world has been accustomed to thinking of all sugars as essentially interchangeable, so I seriously doubt that the specific ratios of sugars found in honey, maple syrup, etc. would be something that any pediatrician would know. I've had enough conversations with doctors about nutrition (I have type 1 diabetes) to know that most doctors know no more about nutrition than the average educated lay person.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                            Lustig is a "nationally recognized authority in the field of neuroendocrinology". So I'm fairly certain he knows significantly more about nutrition than your average pediatrician or internist. Not to mention he is a professor of pediatrics at UC's endocrinology dept and has extensively studied obesity in adults and children. He really can't be lumped together with "most doctors" with regard to nutrition.

                                                                                                                                            Here is a link to his bio: http://www.chc.ucsf.edu/coast/faculty...

                                                                                                                                            I'm a type 1 diabetic also and I agree with you that generally, your average pediatrician or internist know very little about nutrition - it's unfortunate.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                              Well, in that case, he really should have known better than to say that maple syrup and honey are mostly glucose.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                In other words, in case you missed it, I was actually kinda sorta trying to give him a pass. But if you'd rather not...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                  I think what lynnlato (and I in a more clumsy manner) were both trying to say is that (to us) it is less likely that he didn't know what maple syrup and honey are made up of, and more likely that he simply misspoke or that there was some other component of the question that didn't get translated and so his explanation looks strange. I say that because he is taking care of patients in a clinical practice in which he is discussing the nutritional impact of food with kids every day and the lack of knowledge about those substances would have been raised a long time ago (if he didn't know at some earlier point) in his career.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                      Absolutely not, paulj.That's wrong, I caught that too. What's glaring is that Lustig should know that most naturally occurring sugars we tend to eat are almost always linked with fructose.

                                                                                                                                      Both honey and maple syrup generally have a 1:1 ratio of glucose to fructose, which makes it comparable in ratio to hfcs and table sugar.

                                                                                                                                      This to me is concerning because it propagates the myth that natural occuring sugar is "safe" as opposed to "dangerous" "man-made" sugar.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: david t.

                                                                                                                                        Yup. More specifically, the sugars in honey consist of free fructose and glucose:


                                                                                                                                        while maple syrup is primarily sucrose (a glucose-fructose dimer):


                                                                                                                                        And, in case you're wondering, agave nectar is mostly fructose.

                                                                                                                                    3. http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/03/3222...
                                                                                                                                      is a news release from Dr Lustig's school about this lecture going viral. It also discusses related research at the school.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for posting that link, Paul. A lot of information about UCSF and their work on stress (apart from the fructose/Lustig controversy) and how it links to obesity (and ways to combat stress such as exercise). I know that my regular exercise routine is a HUGE stress reliever that always leaves me feeling better afterwards.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                          I think exercise is a huge realm that needs more research. Recently, there was another study about how it helps w/ maintaining blood sugar levels and insulin. Just as carbs can raise seratonin levels and make us feel better, so can exercise with endorphins--we're seriously lacking one and getting too much of the other. We're meant to move. There's so much more to it than just calories burned.

                                                                                                                                      2. Frustose is metabolized differently than glucose, but I won't call it "toxic". It is such an exaggeration. Of course, everything is toxic when you overdosed. The question is that "Is frustose significantly more harmful than other sugars?". I doubt it.

                                                                                                                                        This is similar to a statements like "Salt is toxic" or "Red meat is toxic". These things are bad for us if we overconsume them and many of us in America do eat too much sweet and too much salt, but let's not blame the food component for the problems. The problem is us -- our behavior. When will people as a whole start taking responsibility for our own actions, instead of blaming some conspiracy theories.

                                                                                                                                        Just because a bunch of people eating too much red meat and having chronic problems, it does not give us some excuse and say "red meat is toxic".

                                                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          I am not a scientist, so I can't say if the science as presented in Dr. Lustig's video lecture is accurate or not. But I came away with a feeling that there must be something going on when 6 month old babies are becoming obese. I doubt that meat or salt is the answer to that alarming development. Again, if the science is correct then fructose is different because of the way it's metabolized in the liver. The substrates produced, if they are as damaging to our health as Dr. Lustig lays out, could be said to have a "chronic" toxic effect. At least that's what I took away from watching the lecture twice. Did you watch the entire video?

                                                                                                                                          In any case I am going to leave this thread now. I came away much more informed on this subject because of all that was discussed here. And for that I am grateful. I am especially indebted to lynnato for posting to the board and bringing this lecture to our attention.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                            Obesity in 6 mth olds is something to be concerned about, but describing a soy based formula as a 'milk shake' does not solve it. Researchers (and pediatricians) should look at:
                                                                                                                                            - the mother's diet during pregnancy
                                                                                                                                            - initial weight of the baby
                                                                                                                                            - type of baby feeding
                                                                                                                                            - if formula, the type
                                                                                                                                            - the feeding schedule
                                                                                                                                            - whether any other food or drink is given
                                                                                                                                            - a possible genetic component
                                                                                                                                            - access to medical care

                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                              I think you're forgetting the most likely culprit which is total consumption of calories, which has significantly increased since the mid 70s.

                                                                                                                                              But is infant obesity even an epidemic? It seems unsubstantiated. I haven't seen anything about obese infants being a widespread problem. Just childhood obesity.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: david t.

                                                                                                                                                I side with David on this one. I think it is true that American obesity has increased in the past decades. The question is why. So many factors have changed since then. Some people will point to the introduction of high fructose corn syrup. It is a very attractive idea because it is saying that our weigh gain is not our fault. It is the someone else doing. Someone else lied to us. Yet, it is certainly not the only thing that have changed since then. We cosumed a lot more. A lot! What was a regular size coke becomes the small size coke. The average restaurant plate size increased by 20% from 1970 to 2000. An average American in 1970 ate 1497 pounds of food. In 2000, we ate 1775 pounds of food (20% more), and that is assuming we are eating the same kind of food, which we don't. We eat more high fat and high sugar foods today. We also eat out a lot more than before. We exercise less too -- from children to adults. With all of these as the backdrop, it is unconvincing to claim fructose is the main problem. Again, considered that we ate 20% more from from 1970 to 2000 and ate out more often with more sacks in between..etc, it is distractive to focus our resolution on fructose when we well know what would happen if we only consume 20% less -- if we consume the same amount back as in 1970's. Instead, the today's effort seems to be more about "let's keep eating the same size portion and switch from HFCS back to surcose and hope the problems will go away".

                                                                                                                                                Is cutting sugar down a good thing? Of course. Is cutting down fructose alone (but not glucose or surcose) realistic? I don't know for sure, but I think not. The idea that we just alternate the fructose-glucose ratio or to switch back to sucrose will somehow has a meaningful impact is speculative. There are many things to do. Prioritization is important.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                  good points. I have a very old muffin pan. It's amazing to compare it to the muffin pans on the shelf now. i also have some martini glasses from the 20's. They are barely recognizable compared to today's monsters. 2 examples amoung many.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    According to the USDA per capita calorie calculations (see my earlier USDA link), the categories with big changes were flour and cereal products, added fats, caloric sweeteners. The flour category rose 45% from 1970 to 2008, though it's been steady since 2000. Sweeteners rose 25% to 2000, but have dropped off to 15%. Fats are up nearly 60%, however there is a big jump around 2000, which makes me suspect that there was a change in data collection methods or definitions around then.

                                                                                                                                                    The shortening subcategory jumped the most around 2000. I wonder if that was due to change in accounting for shortening in baked goods. In more recent years I see a shift from shortening to oils (ie away from transfats).


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj


                                                                                                                                                      "According to the USDA per capita calorie calculations (see my earlier USDA link)"

                                                                                                                                                      You do know you have a lot of posts, right? Took me forever to find that post with the USDA link, but I did. :P

                                                                                                                                                      Looks like from the calories consumption, we have increased 24% calories intake from 1975 to 2008. The consumption of vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts and dairy are fairly constant in absolute term (decreases in relative term). Meanwhile, sweeteners, flour, cereal, and fats increases. This is more or less the trend I expected, but it is good to get a real numbers behind this. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                        I did a page word search for 'usda' to find that post. But I've gone back and added a permalink.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        This comment on the AlanArgonBlog elaborates on the jump in fats in the USDA data - a change in accounting.
                                                                                                                                                        "In 1999, the USDA asked more firms (food companies) that weren’t being taken into account prior to this point to report their total sales of vegetable oil. "

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                    There are also theories that it is the hormones added to meat/milk that cause obesity, early puberty so the red meat could be an issue. I think it's too simplistic just to fault fructose. As the infant milk shakes go, breastfeeding rates have increased significantly over the past few decades, especially since the early 80's so that doesn't correlate to obesity in 6 months old these days. The lowest rates of breastfeeding was in the 1960's and has steadily increased since.

                                                                                                                                                    Overall, yes, too much sugar is bad for you, yes, it is probably part of the cause for obesity in the US but there are far too many factors to isolate fructose as the "bad" guy and there isn't enough information to vilify it in small amounts. I don't think anyone is thinking that large amounts of soda is bad for you. I just haven't been convinced that I need to eliminate all fructose from my diet, as little as there is to begin with.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                      Servorg, I too learned much from this thread. And I am especially grateful to you for your calm, rational debate - you had no agenda and weren't taking "sides" but rather just interesting in listening (reading) and learning. That's all I hope to gain from threads like these - a little insight and thoughtful discussion that helps me expand my perspective.

                                                                                                                                                      I'll end by saying that it is quite possible that Lustig's "Sugar is Toxic" statement was sensational so as to draw attention from those who most need to hear his message - you know, the ones that are swilling big gulps of soda and parked on the sofa eating Cheez-its and playing video games. Perhaps It's his attempt at a wake up call.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                                        I think it's pretty clear that his perspective in this lecture is that of an advocate. He must see a lot of very sick kids, and he'd have to be a monster not to be emotionally affected by that.

                                                                                                                                                  3. Seems like the discussion is petering out, but I did want to say a few things about the video (which I have now watched) that I didn't include in my response to it above, mainly because it was late and I needed to go to bed. I have, however, put in quite a few hours on this topic (including reading Taubes and listening to the video lecture), so I think I can no longer be reasonably accused of being uninformed.

                                                                                                                                                    Most of what I wrote above recapitulates my main objection, which pretty much boils down to the word "toxic." My opinion about this has not changed.

                                                                                                                                                    On the other hand, he finally explained the objection to the calories in/calories out rubric in a way that made sense to me. This is useful.

                                                                                                                                                    I also think his points about exercise are very well taken. The only way to burn off calories with exercise is to become a serious athlete. The number of actual calories burned even in vigorous exercise is very small. That's not why exercise helps you keep off weight; the explanation makes more sense as a systemic thing.

                                                                                                                                                    I've also realized that the ways I respond to different types of sugars when I'm treating hypoglycemia are largely explained by the peculiarities of fructose metabolism.

                                                                                                                                                    Can probably say more if anybody cares, but I get the sense that most people have given up on this discussion.

                                                                                                                                                    98 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                      I'll make my last comment and say that all of your posts have been very thought provoking and serious and I've both enjoyed them and they have made me think hard (ouch!). In summing up what I am taking away from Lustig's lecture is like considering a murder case that is all circumstantial evidence.

                                                                                                                                                      If you look at only one piece of evidence independently, without considering all the other pieces, it wouldn't be very convincing. But, as with Lustig's lecture, when you consider all the pieces together in their totality you then may come to a completely different conclusion about the strength of the case. That is what happened to me with the lecture and all the seemingly small bits of scientific data that Lustig presented.

                                                                                                                                                      When one considers obese 6 month old's and the crisis of the metabolic syndrome becoming an absolute epidemic in children and then look at the biochemistry of fructose (HFCS and sucrose and maple syrup and honey and what ever other sweetener you want to throw in to the mix) in the liver, it all becomes a much more compelling and damning story.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                        Well, as I said, he makes a compelling circumstantial case that high doses of fructose, delivered in liquid form, are very dangerous. And it's hard to argue with that. The question is whether this is the key, a key, or one of a number of equally important keys to the problem.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                        "I also think his points about exercise are very well taken. The only way to burn off calories with exercise is to become a serious athlete. The number of actual calories burned even in vigorous exercise is very small. That's not why exercise helps you keep off weight; the explanation makes more sense as a systemic thing."

                                                                                                                                                        I was badly put off by this part of his lecture. While it's absolutely true that the greatest benefit of exercise is metabolic and systemic, he was grossly deceptive in how he ridiculed the notion of calorie burning. Yes,he's correct that it'd take like ten hours of normal gym work to burn off a big mac. But no one ever proposed exercising off one's total caloric intake via exercise!

                                                                                                                                                        People get marginally overweight via marginal overeating of marginal calories. And most people can burn 400-500 calories in a typical workout. And burning an extra 400-500 calories off the top of it all is absolutely significant, and, in many cases, sufficient (those eating four big macs per day are another story, of course...or people eating tons of sugar, as he explains).

                                                                                                                                                        Again, it's MARGINAL (as the doctor surely knows...which makes me wonder why he's portraying things so deceptively). Resting and everyday metabolism do most of the burning, but the MARGINAL calories that make you fat can be burned via exercise.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                          Not necessarily so. Exercise has many benefits, but it's not calories alone that determine weight, it's hormones and metabolism, which vary hugely among individiuals. Gary Taubes has well documented the point that exercise is not a means to weight loss as a net result. I'm sure this is in large part because exercise raises cortisol a lot, and cortisol increases blood glucose, insulin levels, appetite and fat storage, while inhibiting muscle development.

                                                                                                                                                          Weight management is not simple calories in/out as some foiks like to believe. Metabolism and hormones determine what impact calories have, it's not simple math.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                            "Weight management is not simple calories in/out as some foiks like to believe."

                                                                                                                                                            Actually, weight management is dictated by calories in/out, unless you do not believe in the fact that "energy is conserved." and that "energy can be created and/or destroyed".

                                                                                                                                                            There is no way around this because it is the First Law of Thermodynamics -- which is one of the most fundamental and basic science laws. First Law of Thermodynamics is a science law, not a theory or a hypothesis.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                              This was actually another thing that bothered me about Lustig's talk. He says near the beginning that "calories in/calories out" is wrong, but that's not really what he argues (which is good, because if he did it would be nonsense). What I think he's saying is that not all calories are equally available. So it's not that if you take in more calories than you burn, you store some of it; it's that if you immediately store some of your calories in a form that is not your body's first choice for energy, you need to eat more to keep your basic metabolism going. Metabolic rate does vary, so some people burn off calories more quickly than others, but the basic equation is the same.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                Well stated. Put another way, you can eat a meal, feel energetic afterward, and blow off calories easily. Or you can eat a meal, feel sluggish afterward, and make burning calories either as part of a workout or in the normal activities of your daily living that much harder.

                                                                                                                                                                And that's not even considering the effect of satiety on calories consumed.

                                                                                                                                                                It's not that the "calories in, calories out" doctrine is wrong or doesn't apply (though even that ignores the possibility of foodstuffs that pass through your digestive system unused, which can happen in some circumstances). The problem with that doctrine is that it's oversimplified.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                  "It's not that the "calories in, calories out" doctrine is wrong or doesn't apply (though even that ignores the possibility of foodstuffs that pass through your digestive system unused, which can happen in some circumstances). The problem with that doctrine is that it's oversimplified."

                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, this doctrine does not ignore that possibility if you think about it. The "calories in/calories out...etc " is no differet than the "energy in/ energy out.... etc" argument which is not too different from "energy is conserved". If you don't absorb the energy during the digestion and absorption process, then it is "calories out". I don't think it is oversimplified the real situation at all. The First Law of Thermodynamics is the basis of almost every science if you think about all the classes you have taken.

                                                                                                                                                                  The terms like:

                                                                                                                                                                  Energy = Kinetic Energy + Potential Energy

                                                                                                                                                                  F = qE + q(vXB) (for static electromagnetism)

                                                                                                                                                                  F = mg (for general gravity force)

                                                                                                                                                                  E = mc2 (for Einstein specific relativity)

                                                                                                                                                                  ATP + H2O = ADP + Pi + 30 kJ/mol

                                                                                                                                                                  ... etc.

                                                                                                                                                                  Every single equal signs above are based on one thing: the First Law of Thermodynamics. This is how fundamental this Science Law is.

                                                                                                                                                                  I would actually argue that the Law is not oversimplified, rather Lustig oversimplified many things in his lecture.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                    Chem buddy, I don't know how to respond except to say I'm not sure you understood my post.

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not undermining the first law of thermodynamics.

                                                                                                                                                                    Let's put aside the possibility of food passing through digestion without absorption into the bloodstream (which we both agree is possible and does not violate TFLOTd).

                                                                                                                                                                    What I'm saying is that the problem with the doctrine of "all that matters is calories in and calories out" (note: not TFLOTd) is that it ignores a few simple facts related to endocrinology.

                                                                                                                                                                    1) Some foods and methods of eating increase satiety more than others, leading to ingesting fewer overall calories.

                                                                                                                                                                    2) Some foods are more easily converted to fat once in your body and some foods are more easily converted to free glucose in your bloodstream that your body can use readily. This leads to feeling more energetic after eating some foods than others, and subsequently burning off more calories after eating some foods than others.

                                                                                                                                                                    Again, I have no qualms with TFLOTd. I just think that the notion that "all that matters is calories in and calories out" is too simple, ignores too much of psychology and endocrinology for it to be a truly useful guideline to those looking to lose weight (or for that matter gain, or maintain weight).

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                      " I don't know how to respond except to say I'm not sure you understood my post."

                                                                                                                                                                      Cowboy buddy. :)

                                                                                                                                                                      My point is that the "calories in/calories out... net calories increase" phrase follows the First Law of Thermodynamics. This phrase does not ignore the fact that foods can pass through our digestive system wihout absorption, which I felt you were suggesting otherwise when you wrote " that ignores the possibility of foodstuffs that pass through your digestive system unused".

                                                                                                                                                                      I also won't say the phrase oversimplifies the situation. Oversimplify suggests "generalization which is not always correct"

                                                                                                                                                                      For example, a statement like: "You always get tanned skin for sunbathing" is a oversimplifed statement.

                                                                                                                                                                      Another example, the classical equation of kinetics energy is

                                                                                                                                                                      1/2 mv^2, but 1/2 mv^2 is an oversimplified expression in light of special relativity. The fuller kinetics energy is term is:


                                                                                                                                                                      The 1/2mv^2 is oversimplified because it applies at low speed, but it collapses at speed close ot speed of light. In other words, it is not always correct. This is, however, not how I view "calories in - calories out = net calories gain/loss". I think that phrase is always correct because it is a reinstatement of the First Law of Thermodynamics. Because it is always correct, I won't say it is oversimplified. I cannot think of a situation where this statement can be violated. You can probably say many things about that phrase, but "oversimpified" it is not.

                                                                                                                                                                      As suggested before, if I have to chose between this "calories in/calores" phrase and Lustig statement, I would definitely say that many of Lustig's statement are oversimplied -- because they are not always correct in all situations, whereas the "calories in/out" is

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                      No argument that we can't metabolize every calorie we take in: for example, cellulose has zero calories as far as we're concerned (even though it's a glucose polymer just like starch and stores just as much energy), because we can't digest it. But that's not what "calories in/calories out" means.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                        jlafler (woman),


                                                                                                                                                                        What I meant is that "calories in/calories out.... etc" statement is correct. Some people may interpret the statement in a fashion which is incorrect, but that is only because the interpretation is incorrect. We cannot blame an equation or a statement is false simply because some people interpret wrong. The "calories in - calories out = calories gain" is just a rephrase of "energy in - energy out = net energy change".

                                                                                                                                                                        As for foods which are not absorbed (partially or fully), they are not part of the energy uptake. Just like cellulose. There is in fact much energy stored, as you have mentioned. We, human, just cannot take advantage of it, thus its "calories" were never "in" -- not on a biochemistry level.

                                                                                                                                                                        Another way to correctly to interpret it is that we can still count the energy from the cellulose as in for it is inside our digestive system, but we also need to count it as out because it does come out from our digestive system unaltered.

                                                                                                                                                                        Either interpretation will lead to a zero calorie net gain.

                                                                                                                                                                        The problem is that some people do not keep the definition consistent. They will count the cellulose as "in" and then somehow not count it as out. Of course, in that case, the "calories in/out" statement looks wrong, but that is only because the interpretation is incorrect.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                      Well stated. I've made the same point myself, in greater detail, in this series of articles: http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2009/08/h...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf


                                                                                                                                                                      Did you read the article you cited? The reason I asked is that I don't understand your rationale for citing that article. What exact are you trying to say by writing "it is not that simple" and then cite that article. What is not that simple and exactly which point I made you disagree with? I think it is a funny piece.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                        You thought that was a humor piece? Never mind. Let's just pretend that the highly variable metabolic, thermogenic and endocrine influences of various macronutrients have nothing to do with how our bodies do or do not store fat.
                                                                                                                                                                        I'm sure the researchers who have repeatedly demonstrated twice the weight loss with 50% more calories in studies of carb restriction vs. fat restrictions were mistaken or lying, too.

                                                                                                                                                                        Different macronutrients have different hormonal effects. Calories efficiently burned lead to excess fat storage, calories inefficiently burned do the opposite.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                          "It's not that simple."


                                                                                                                                                                          That is not what I asked. I asked that exactly what do you mean by "it is not that simple" What is not that simple? In addition, I assume you are trying to disagree with me on something, so exactly what are you disagreeing with? I don't understand how that article has much to contradict what I have written thus far.

                                                                                                                                                                          That article is indeed written in a tongue in cheek tone, I think.

                                                                                                                                                                          You wrote

                                                                                                                                                                          "Different macronutrients have different hormonal effects. Calories efficiently burned lead to excess fat storage, calories inefficiently burned do the opposite."

                                                                                                                                                                          It does not matter how calories is burnt or not burnt or wasted.... etc. The First Law of Thermodynamics holds in any situation. It isn't just low carbohydrate diet vs low fat diet, the whole construct of the universe, our understanding of every science we know is based on/related to the First Law. To say the First Law does not hold for a human body is very big claim and in my opinion a very wrong one.

                                                                                                                                                                          The "calories in/calories out/calories net intake... etc" statement holds. You may misinterpret the statement, but the law is correct.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                            "It's not that simple."


                                                                                                                                                                            Since you have not clarified exactly what you disagree with or that what is not so simple, I will just add one or two things.

                                                                                                                                                                            The authors of the article you have cited support the First Law of Thermodynamics and use these laws to support their beliefs. This is why I asked if you have actually read the article and understand it. Frankly, I don't understand why you have cited this paper as a counterpoint when in fact nothing I have written contradicts with the paper. The reason they wrote that piece is to try to correct people who don't understand the thermodynamics laws. They wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                            "It is important to point out that no study of isocaloric diets has ever claimed that the first law of thermodynamics is not true."

                                                                                                                                                                            In other words, no isocaloric study can prove the First Law is wrong

                                                                                                                                                                            "The idea that "a calorie is a calorie" comes from a misunderstanding of the laws of thermodynamics"

                                                                                                                                                                            In other words, people misinterprets the First Law.

                                                                                                                                                                            "In other words, although the first law holds even in irreversible processes – energy is still conserved ...."

                                                                                                                                                                            The First Law is true in reversible processes as well as irreversible process -- true in all cases.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Jim Leff


                                                                                                                                                                    Not agree or disagree you per se, but I want to point out one more thing. Exercise also increases muscle mass and muscle mass consumes calories. In other words, while it is true that the calories directly consumed in a single exercise is small, the increase in muscle mass help burn calories on a regular basis. Our muscle cells burn off calories even when they are resting. When all else are equal, the person with more muscle mass burns off more calories than a person with muscle mass -- even if they are sitting still.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                      Yep. Like I said, the primary weight loss benefit of exercise is metabolic and systemic. You're absolutely right: greater muscle mass means higher resting metabolism. Every overweight person should be lifting weights, that's absolutely true.

                                                                                                                                                                      But burning 400-500 calories/day is NOT (as the doctor explicitly says in that video) insignificant. Most overweight people don't overeat by much more than that per day, anyway. Anyone who does is soon destined to be hundreds, not tens, of pounds overweight. So by saying "calorie burning is ridiculous", he's wrong, and he's smart enough to know he's wrong. And when I see smart people willfully saying wrong things, I listen a lot less closely to whatever else they might have to say.

                                                                                                                                                                      As for the two postings above you, neither is arguing anywhere near my point, so I don't have a response.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes and no--adding a pound of muscle mass burns about 5-7 more calories a day so it is something but not a huge number. However, the amount of work it takes to gain muscle and maintain it is significant. Plus, the more muscle you have, the harder you can work when you work out and burn more calories.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                          1st sentence: Not sure about that 5-7 stat, but whatever it is, it's a free lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                          2nd sentence: uh....whuh? That significant work is calorie burning. Thats the point!

                                                                                                                                                                          3rd sentence: that is strictly psychological and I could dispute it from many angles

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm agreeing w/ what CK's saying but adding qualifiers.

                                                                                                                                                                            1) I've been reading about the varying numbers for years. The most reliable source I've found is from the American Council of Exercise (qualifier I'm an ACE certified personal trainer because it is one of the most recognized). Here's a synopsis but I read it a long time ago and don't have the original source.


                                                                                                                                                                            Adding muscle is a good thing, just not necessarily for the additional calories burned/raised metabolism. When you lift weights, you also increase your metabolism for hours after, not because of increased muscle.

                                                                                                                                                                            Finally, if building muscle didn't help performance, then why do athletes bother to do it?

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly--the National Weight Loss Registry shows that people who've lost weight and kept it off records that people, in order to maintain the weight loss, work out on average 6-7 days a week, 1-2 hours a day. That can be a significant number of calories.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                          It's also way more exercise than most people are willing to do regularly.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                            Well, quite obviously in the midst of an obesity epidemic people need to eat less and exercise more than they are currently willing to (and to pull way back on simple starch and sugar). That goes without saying.

                                                                                                                                                                            If the point is to find something people would deem easy and comfy, I guess we need to wait for a weight loss pill.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                              " I guess we need to wait for a weight loss pill."

                                                                                                                                                                              It seems like, and this is my problem w/ what Lustig is preaching, that he's saying getting rid of fructose is the magic pill that will make people lose weight. Yes, fructose isn't good for us but is it the reason so many are fat? If we replaced fructose calories w/ glucose, we'd be no thinner.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                "If we replaced fructose calories w/ glucose, we'd be no thinner."
                                                                                                                                                                                I think Dr. Lustig would disagree and makes a credible case to the contrary.

                                                                                                                                                                                Would we all be svelte and fit? of course not. But we'd have easier access to energy from food and presumably burn off calories a little`easier, leading to some degree of weight loss as a population (or at least a slowing of our population's trend of weight gain). We'd have lower rates of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. We might have lower incidences of cardiovascular disease. And we might have lower incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. You might disagree with his science, but I've yet to hear a solid scientific rebuttal to his specific points (except his dubious claim that fructose is 'toxic'), just misguided generalized arguments against the statement he never made - that fructose is the only reason for obesity.

                                                                                                                                                                                People keep on reading into this presentation with an all or nothing attitude - either fructose must be entirely responsible for obesity and diabetes and such, or it is completely blameless and no different from other sugars or other forms of calories. That isn't what Dr, Lustig is claiming.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't think anyone has said, but I could have missed it, that fructose is blameless. Most (I think everyone) has agreed it's not good for you but the discussion is in amount, both in how much is detrimental to how bad it is for you. Since almost everyone in America eats fructose and we don't all have metabolic syndrome, etc., there is a line that's yet to be determined but it's not small amounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                    "I don't think anyone has said, but I could have missed it, that fructose is blameless."
                                                                                                                                                                                    Stating, as you did in your last post, that if we replaced all fructose with glucose people would be no less obese is getting awfully close to saying fructose is blameless, at least with respect to obesity.

                                                                                                                                                                                    But I'll restate in either case.

                                                                                                                                                                                    People keep on trying to replace Lustig's argument with one stating that fructose is the magic bullet, the sole cause of obesity, or at least the one factor so big that if we addressed it we could ignore all other factors. That is a mis-characterization of his argument.

                                                                                                                                                                                    As soon as anyone admits that fructose is not said magic bullet, then the immediate response is "well, we already knew that fructose is bad for you." No. Maybe you personally have read Daubes for a few years, or have extensively studied obscure research on fructose (and managed to put them together in your head for a complete picture of fructose' effects on the body). But by an large Lustig's presentation goes beyond what is well known and accepted, either by the general population or by the medical community.

                                                                                                                                                                                    He's not arguing that fructose is the sole culprit in obesity. He's arguing that at the levels it is currently consumed in the US, fructose is far worse than we knew.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                      "Stating, as you did in your last post, that if we replaced all fructose with glucose people would be no less obese is getting awfully close to saying fructose is blameless, at least with respect to obesity."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Not really. I'm saying fructose is bad, as is glucose. It would be more like saying one brand of guns is responsible for x number of deaths and making the argument that if that one brand weren't available, another would be used. That doesn't make the first one blameless in the deaths. Fructose is another easy means to too many calories.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm saying you're either overstating the dangers of glucose or understating the danger of fructose. They are not equivalent.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                    "misguided generalized arguments against the statement he never made - that fructose is the only reason for obesity."

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think he actually did push forth that cases more than a few times. For example, he argued that our population weight increases despite the fact that our fat consumption went down. At the same time, our sugar (sucrose and HFCS) goes up. He made several "correlation" arguement throughout the lecture. More of less: Fructose consumption went up, and this bad thing goes up. He said that more than a few times without the need for multivariables regression

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am sure you understand multivariable regression. In a complex system, many variables are involved and it can be challenging to find out what is correlate to what. This is the reason why multivariable regression is necessary and is not simple. The only exception which we can easily extract a correlation between the dependent variable with a single independent variable out of all other variables is that this particular independent variable is the strongest and most important.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So let say you have a system of regression like:

                                                                                                                                                                                    Y = a X1 + b X2 + c X3 + d X + ..... etc

                                                                                                                                                                                    So, you have a regression with many indepdent values from X1, X2 to Xn

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yet, if you are able to visible see a correlation between Y and X1 without any in-depth analysis, then that could very well mean that the term a is very large compared to b, c, d,,.... etc. If this is the case, then that means X1 is the most important independent variable because "a" is by far the largest. Certainly the term a X1 together is the largest (it is possible that a is not large, but X1 varies to a larger degree. Nevertheless, a X1 together has to be large)

                                                                                                                                                                                    The fact that Lustig repeatly suggested that fructose intake is correlated to many of our problems without doing any multivariables regression shows that he is in fact arguing that that fructose consumption is the most important term. It does not mean fructose causes this, but it certainly mean fructose has the strongest correlation of all othe variables.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree with you that a multivariable regression analysis is certainly called for at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I disagree with you that the lack of one in Lustig's presentation implies that he thinks fructose is the only cause of obesity. His other comments about exercise, the narrow scope of this particular presentation (which makes focus on other factors off topic), and his tangent about actually treating obese youngsters lead me to believe otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                        "I agree with you that a multivariable regression analysis is certainly called for at this point."


                                                                                                                                                                                        You misunderstood me. I don't mean the multivariables regression is always necessary. What I actually wanted to say is that it is possible to find a correlation between an independent and the dependent variables without doing multivariables regression -- if this particular variable is the strongest term

                                                                                                                                                                                        Let try this again, if you have a system of

                                                                                                                                                                                        Y = a X1 + b X2. Two terms. One may need to do a multivariables regression to extract the term of a and b, right? If a is very large, then it is strongly correlated. If a is zero, then there is no correlation. Agree?

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ok, so let say the real equation is:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Y = 1000 X1 + 0.001 X2.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This means X1 is strongly correlated to Y and X2 is weakly correlated, agree? In a case like this, you may easily find a correlation between X1 to Y without doing a multivariable regression, but you will have greater challenge to find the correlation between X2 to Y. In short, it is very possible to see a correlation for the strongest term, but not the weaker term. Agree. This is also very different when the two terms are similar like the following:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Y = 50 X1 + 50 X2.


                                                                                                                                                                                        The fact that Lustig repeatly showed that he can get a clean correlation trend beetween fructose and weight... etc without doing multivariable regression does not mean he is wrong. He may be right. I am not here to say he is wrong about that. What I am saying is that he is saying fructose is the strongest independent variable. Agree? In real life, we have more than a two term variable equation for weight gain -- at least ten terms if not more. The fructose term must have be the dominant term for him to show you all those correlation graphs -- otherwise the other variables will overwhelm the trends.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This is why I believe Lustig has suggested that fructose is either the only term or the strongest term compared to all other terms. I don't believe I misinterpret his meanings. Because the fructose term is the largest and most important term, then it is also correct to say that if we can eliminate fructose, we will eliminate most of the problem like obesity. Is he correct? I don't know, but that is what he has implied.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                    If I eliminate pretty much all processed food, all simple starch, all added fructose, and all sugary anything from my diet, and eat a perfectly balanced diet of whole low-glycemic foods in small portions, plus work out hard 6 times per week, I can lose maybe 1/2 pound per week.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So, thanks, Dr. Lustig, but while cutting fructose is unquestionably a great thing for most people, it's absolutely not sufficient for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                      Complex vs. simple has no role in metabolism and endocrinology. Processed white flour is a complex carb, not a simple one, frex.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                        FWIW, I know anecdotal experience isn't conclusive and don't know if this is the case for you but everyone I know who has been heavy and lost weight has a very slow metabolism. They need to eat a fraction of what others their size do and work out that much harder to maintain the same weight. It could be that the slow metabolism caused them to gain weight but at the same time, research is showing (I hate that phrase because it's inconclusive) that fat cells are active and when especially deprived, take in fat much more quickly. It's frustrating because it's a lifelong struggle. At the same time, I don't know anyone who had been heavy for a long time and managed to take off all the excess weight w/out fighting it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                          I linked this farther up the thread, but your post tells me it ought to be linked again here: http://www.newsweek.com/2009/09/10/bo...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                            I did read that above and think it's interesting. There's a lot we don't know about what we're doing to our bodies. I've also read that in utero babies who were severely deprived grew into overweight adults who had a compulsion to overeat. At this point, we are who we are and if we have to work hard (I have the same tendency and it runs in my family) to fight it, we have to do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm doing that (except not the work out hard six times a week thing, just moderate exercise so far) and have lost on average two pounds a week. (Not eating ultra small portions either.) Feeling good, and a sleep apnea problem I had is 100% gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Still have 40 more pounds to drop so we'll see how that goes. I'm a much happier camper these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                      And, that's the problem. In the past, moving was part of life but we've taken out the need to move in our society. People also aren't willing to cut back on food. Hence 60% o the population is overweight and the number growing. "Willing to do" needs to be changed of we want to change it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  4. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                    400-500 calories is a lot -- that's something like an hour of vigorous aerobic exercise. I wouldn't call it a typical workout. My guess is that the reason he's so dismissive of calorie-burning through exercise is that the kids he's working with get next to no exercise, and convincing them to take a moderately-paced 20-minute walk every day is a big struggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The issue for me is that a lot of people have an exaggerated idea of how many calories they can burn through exercise, which leads to overeating to "reward" oneself.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                      True, many people do have an exaggerated idea of calories burned thru exercise, but the fact is in general we have grown to become a much more sedentary culture over the past couple to three decades.

                                                                                                                                                                                      For example, lack of funding at schools has cut into or just plain cut many physical education programs. Also, we have become gadgetized almost to a fault. I remember seeing computers and video games as I was getting close to my teen years. Sure I would sit down and play for hours at a time on some days, but I would still be out and about riding my bike and playing in the park with either my sibs or the neighborhood kids in baseball games and the like.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Nowadays, I believe it's been somewhat part of the norm with the younger folks - they are way more prone to sit their duffs with that video game (both stand alone and handheld) or computer, or even sit around on and text their friends all day long, then go outside and play.

                                                                                                                                                                                      An added factor is with all the high-publicity child kidnappings, many parents are less willing to have their kids walk home from school, play outside in the street unsupervised, etc. I remember walking home from school often, which got me some aerobic activity (while it's not running, I can vouch for the good walking does for you...and I'm an avid runner to boot) and did keep the weight gain from getting too excessive as a child, though I still ate way too much of everything back then. While in college, my weight stayed in check for the most part because the school was bicycle-oriented in its transportation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course, how much of the obesity problem is stictly fructose-related vs. the emergence of a more sedentary culture is a matter of debate, something that has been done quite well on this thread if I do say so myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: josquared

                                                                                                                                                                                        Does diet or exercise explain why Mississippi has consistently had the highest obesity rate in the nation, and Colorado the lowest?

                                                                                                                                                                                        See the Blubber belt thread

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think that's another good point - regional and cultural norms within a particular region are another factor in obesity rates, as well as affluence and its relation to eating habits.

                                                                                                                                                                                          (If I had my druthers I wouldn't mind moving to Colorado myself, especially the Boulder area, but this region of California here is pretty good also in terms of finding ample outdoor activities year-round.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess my point in my post is that targeting one source (or in this case, substance) as the be-all-end-all solution problem of obesity is doing a disservice to solving the problem. If Dr. Lustig says it's fructose in the diet and nothing else but fructose as the overriding issue (I'm not saying that's what he believes in reality), then it's a bit of a simplistic approach IMO. Rather, cutting consumption of sugar should be a major part of a multi-pronged approach to tackling the obesity issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: josquared

                                                                                                                                                                                            Another USDA resource - interactive food atlas

                                                                                                                                                                                            has collected several of the maps which show a similar pattern for soda sales and diabetes - particularly that deep south v Colorado contrast. Some measures of physical activity fit.

                                                                                                                                                                                            A number of the western pockets of high diabetes appear to be reservations.

                                                                                                                                                                                            # Fast food restaurants does not match obesity/diabetes rates (they are relatively high in California and Colorado. Consumption of prepared foods (high in Utah) and fats also does not match well with obesity rates.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                            Poverty; poverty and obesity go hand in hand, along with obesity while malnourished. Google up Taube's video presentation to obesity researchers at UC Berkeley where he covers this in depth.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: josquared

                                                                                                                                                                                            Throughout most of our evolutionary history we were probably more active than we are now, but probably less active than in the recent past. People doing hard physical labor all day is something that really only happens when you have agriculture. Most animals spend a lot of time sitting (or standing) around, with brief bursts of activity. The main exception is during migrations.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                              I also want to point out one more reason. A harsh and real fact, which I think is overlooked at times. Throughout most of our evolutionary history, we don't live this long. It is estimated that early early human live probably on average 15-20 years. Even as late as in 1900s in the USA, our life expectancy is about 50 years old.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, when half of the population dies before age 30's-40's during the ancient era, you just aren't going to see that many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes and others. More importantly, most early human were barely getting by, so their problems are more related to infections and malnutrition. They are in no condition to get diabetes or fatty liver.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Edited: I have changed 1970's to 1900's.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                "Even as late as in the 1970's in the USA, our life expectancy is about 50 years old."

                                                                                                                                                                                                You are off by about 20 years (on the low side) when looking at both sexes and all races: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A000514...

                                                                                                                                                                                                Even if you go back to 1935 the average for both sexes and all races was about 60 years of age.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg


                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks. In my head, I wrote "1900", but somehow I typed 1970. The main point stays the same. A population of higher life expectancy will see more chronic disease occurrence. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Probably a good lesson for all those who jumped on the remark in the interview by Lustig about honey and maple syrup. Even when we type something and look at it in "print" on the screen in front of us it is still possible to make an error that we know is wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Probably a good lesson for all those who jumped on the remark in the interview by Lustig about honey and maple syrup. Even when we type something and look at it in "print" on the screen in front of us it is still possible to make an error that we know is wrong."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Did I jump on his remark about honey and maple syrup? Because I would like you to show me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have only discussed things which he has repeatedly stand by. I don't think there is anything I have discussed which he has not repeated over and over. For example, his statement about sugar is a toxin. Even then, I won't call my comment toward his as "jumped on". In fact, I have repeated said that it is possible that he is correct, but caution there is a real difference between "over-consumption of sugar is bad" vs "sugar is toxic", and that the distinction should not be overlooked. It is a very important distinction from a scientific angle as well as from the social/political angle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Moreover, my essential point was not lost regardless of 1970 or 1900. The greater point is that people used to live shorter and therefore certain things are not as visible as they are now. The take-home message is the same. For example, colon cancer probably was not big issue 100 year ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is far different than the comment about honey and maple syrup, which utterly flipped the conclusions about what is healthy to eat and what is not, so these are very different level of mistakes. Again, I have never commented about his statements about honey and maple syrup until just now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                        While I used your misstatement to illustrate my point nowhere did I accuse you of "jumping" on Dr. Lustig's error in that interview. Simply pointing out that obviously intelligent people can make a factual error, even in the case here on this thread, where one can look at what one wrote and can correct it afterward, (while Dr. Lustig was speaking extemporaneously in an interview and looks to have misspoken on the fly with no chance to look at his words and make a correction).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "While I used your misstatement to illustrate my point nowhere did I accuse you of "jumping" on Dr. Lustig's error in that interview. Simply pointing out that obviously intelligent people can make a factual error...etc"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          First of all, you were writing specifically to me. You wrote there is a good lesson to learn. It seems there is a lession which you see that I don't know about. So what do you want to teach me about? Did I know I that I mistype 1900s into 1970s? Yes, I did and I said so. Did I have much to do with that honey and syrup discussion? Not until now. So what lession do you want me to learn? What are you trying to point out for me?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Second, assuming you were not specifically addressing me, what are you trying to get at? I am still a bit lost here. I mean exactly what are you trying to suggest others to do? Are you trying to say that other people shouldn't have discussed about Lustig's honey comment because, as you put it, they were "jumping on" Lustig's comments. Regardless he made a mistake or not, people can discuss his comments. You have discussed my comment, just like they did on Lustig's comments. So were you "jumping on" my comment then?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Third, if you wanted to tell me that people can misspeak and make unintentional mistake, then I have to tell you that I understand this which is one of the reasons why I didn't discuss more about the honey and syrup comment -- not that it is wrong to discuss it. So why lecture me over this -- about it is a good lesson to learn? Moreover, people have already dropped this topic since four days ago. People aren't discussing it anymore. Any particular reason to bring this topic back?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Misstatements of fact happen frequently, despite knowing the correct data . You made one. I utilized that misstatement to point out that, when Dr. Lustig made his factual misstatement, that some here asserted that he was making that factual misstatement not in error, but rather because he didn't know it was wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought then, (and still think) that Dr. Lustig knows that honey and maple syrup are not "just" glucose. That Dr. Lustig made a simple misstatement of fact while speaking extemporaneously. Just as you know that the average life expectancy in the US in the 1970's was not some 40% lower than the data shows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And my second point was that his error was one that is actually easier to make than yours, since Dr. Lustig did not having the advantage to see his words in print and correct them before getting widely circulated. Making the likelihood even greater for such a misstatement to occur in speaking, rather than writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Whether people were still discussing that point is not germane to my use of the misstatement in your post to point out that it is quite possible to make an error, even when one may "know" that it is an error.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg


                                                                                                                                                                                                              First of all, I do like to apologize for my mistake. It seems you are saying that your previous comment is not specifically toward me only. I was under the impression that you were talking to me specifically and that there is a life-lesson for me to learn about not jumping on Lustig. I did not do that and confused why you accused me of such.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I understand that it is very possible that Lustig misspoke. He may or may not understand it at the time, but his main point was never about "eating honey is healthy for you" His main point is that "frustose is toxic" and "glucose is better". So I see no point of focusing a minor point he made. Again, it does not matter to me if he made that mistake unintentionally or intentionally. It is NOT an essential point of his. He is not an advocator for honey. He is an advocator for glucose over suroce. Had he been a honey advocator, then it would be different story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would also argue that his mistake is not necessary easier to make than mine. It is a very different kind of mistake. I made a mistake on one word. I mistype 1970's when I want to write 1900's. It was really that originally I wanted to use the 1970's data, but changed that life expectancy to the 1900's data because I want to get closer to ancient time but I didn't change the description from 1970 to 1900. Anyway, it is a single word mistake. Lustig did not make a single word mistake. Look very carefully what he said:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Maple syrup and honey are just glucose. While caloric and insulin generating (therefore obesogenic), they don't have fructose to damage the liver and promote insulin resistance. So, although not perfect, they would be better than sucrose"

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The phrase is self perserved. He said maple syrup and honey are just glucose, and then he said syrup and honey will generate insultin and caloric issue, but they don't have fructose to damage liver.... and that honey and syrup are better than sucrose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is not a single word mistake. He didn't just subsitute one word for another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              That being said and all, I think you could have addressed people who made the honey and syprup comments and not addressing me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for misstatement, I am under the impression that there were a lot of other misstatements in this long list of posts prior to mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was careful not to say that you were guilty of any accusation of Dr. Lustig in the "honey/maple syrup" sidebar discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                As to your last point "As for misstatement, I am under the impression that there were a lot of other misstatement in this long list of posts prior to mine." I would differentiate between misstatements of fact (as yours and Dr. Lustig's clearly are/were) and those of mistaken interpretation or regurgitation or reformulation in our own words when trying to make sure that what we are understanding about someone's point, is in fact, the point they were trying to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yup. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are diseases of affluence. They're not fun, but they beat dying of an infectious disease before you can walk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I understand heart disease, diabetes and cancers are not fun, but usually these diseases occur later in life. So even if you hold everything else in our life the same, you will get an increase of these diseases as our life expectancy increases. I know our lifestyle is not the same as before, but just for the sake of the argument -- even if the life style is the same... you will get more people to have cancer, just people live longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                      One point of caution when using life expectancy figures from the past. 'Raw' expectancy figures include a large number of people who die in infancy. Once a person was past that initial danger period, expectancy is notably higher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here's a table that takes that into account

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In 1900, at birth expectancy was 48yrs. But a 20 yr old had another 42 yrs of expectancy (i.e 62 yrs total).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj


                                                                                                                                                                                                        Absolutely agree and thanks for your clarification. Nevertheless, people used to have a shorter and harder life. In ancient time or even in the classical time, most people suffer from lack of nutrients, and damages from infections and diseases,... conditions which make obesity and diabetes much smaller problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm no gym stud, and I'm no youngster, but I manage it, so it's manageable. And it's only an hour of straight aerobic if aerobic is all you do. Which as I thought we agreed shouldn't be the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If his point is that it makes people eat more (I've seen no such proposition from exercise physiologists, btw, nor has it been my experience), he certainly didn't go anywhere near making that point. Just that since you can't burn, say, a big Mac, exercise shouldn't be considered a realistic calorie burning pursuit. Which is rubbish.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                "Just that since you can't burn, say, a big Mac, exercise shouldn't be considered a realistic calorie burning pursuit. Which is rubbish"

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi Jim,

                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't think it is rubbish. It is my understanding that the most of the "calories" we read off the labels are calculated by using bomb calorimetry, and that is the pure heat energy from the starting material (chemicals) to the elemental composition. I have used that tool a couples of times.


                                                                                                                                                                                                That is not quiet the same as our ADME process for our body. First of all, our bodies do not break down foods like a bomb does. As an example, in the Kreb cycle, bonds are formed and reformed and we extract energy from these processes. We don't extract the energy all the way to the elements -- which is why our feces are actually used as nutrients for other organisms -- we cannot extract all the energy out from foods. In fact, we probably cannot extract most of the raw energy out. Just a few bonds here and there. In addition, the digestion process is not free and is in fact very expensive. We use a lot of energy just for the digestion process. Think of it like a coal mining operation. There is much energy and resources are invested to extract the coal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Although the nutrient values of a Big Mac is stated to be ~570 kcal on those Nutrition Facts labels, the net energy gain from consuming it is much less. Meanwhile, the estimated energy consumed during an exercise is very close to the real energy used.

                                                                                                                                                                                                In short, the calories estimated from an exercise is very close to the real actual number and the calories estimated for a Big Mac is far too great compared to the real energy we are able to extract out of one. So I believe a normal exercise is more than sufficient to burn off the calories we absorb from a Big Mac.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I suspect that Lustig knows this, but he tried to pull a fast one on us. Either Lustig oversimplified many things or the readers did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's a bit over my head, scientifically. But I'll stand by my "marginal" statement. You don't need to burn your entire dinner in order for calorie burning to have very positive effect, because you're not trying to jog off dinner, you're only trying to jog off the marginal calories that would otherwise make you marginally overweight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                    "because you're not trying to jog off dinner, you're only trying to jog off the marginal calories that would otherwise make you marginally overweight."

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agee. The only point I tried to make above is that even you read there is ~570 kcal for a Big Mac, you cannot absorb 570 kcal. We don't have the ability to have a net gain of 570 kcal by consuming a Big Mac.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                      P.S.: I just realize that I misunderstood you when you wrote "Just that since you can't burn, say, a big Mac, exercise shouldn't be considered a realistic calorie burning pursuit. Which is rubbish."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Somehow I thought you said that the idea that exercise can be considered as a realistic calorie burning pursuit -- is an rubbish idea. I mis-read you. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The ability to manage an hourly workout involves other things besides age and fitness. For example, when I got a new job and suddenly was spending an extra hour a day commuting, and my new commute didn't take me right by a good gym, so I couldn't easily stop on the way home, I found it a lot harder to get to the gym. Giving it up was tempting since I loathe going to the gym. I went obediently three times a week for four years and hated just about every minute of it. If you live in the city, don't bike, and hate (or can't afford) the gym, good workout opportunities tend to be limited.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not to say it's easy but people do it. I worked the finish line of a marathon that Adrian Fenty (former mayor of DC, but back when he was mayor) ran. The reporters interviewed him right after and asked how he found the time, as busy as he was. He responded something to the effect of everyone crossing the finish line is busy and they've all found the time. There's nothing special about what he did. If it's important enough, you do it. It could just not be worth it to you, and that's fine, too. It's disingenuous to say a person CAN'T--he/she can, but chooses not to and, imo, there's nothing wrong with that. Just accept the consequences of the choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tell that to a single mother working two minimum-wage jobs. I think of myself as "busy," but I have a lot more free time than she does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's not fair, and I'll never pretend it is but someone who is that busy, has a tendency to gain weight and wants to maintain a healthy weight will have to find a way to move, in other ways than hitting the gym, AND watch what she eats or be overweight. There's no way around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                  a very good point, well expressed. thanks, Jim.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hey, I'm just wondering -- how many of you are female? Because women a) don't build muscle tissue as easily as men, b) are smaller (on average), and c) have (again, on average) slower (or, as I like to say, more efficient) metabolisms. These factors may contribute to my own lack of enthusiasm for exercise as a weight-loss tool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are you asking Jim Leff or everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Women live longer. Doesn't that alone trump everything else?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am not a woman.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Everyone. (I'm already pretty sure about Jeff.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not complaining about being a woman! I love being a woman. But it does mean that I'm not going to put on as much muscle as a man of roughly the same age and fitness doing the same workout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                          but...because you tend to be smaller as a woman, you don't need to put on as much muscle as a man. Plus, as a woman, you can have a lot higher body fat ratio than a man and still be considered slim. so i think it evens out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm female, and I think chowser's nearby post is spot on. If I had to get all my exercise on an elliptical machine, etc....it just wouldn't happen. If you want to exercise, you have to find something you enjoy. That's not to say there aren't days when I have to beat myself to go outside and run when the weather sucks, but most of the time I'm eager to get out and enjoy being outside. And if it's the mountain bike, then even more so. I can't wait til tomorrow to spend 4 hours in the forest having fun w/ my husband and friends. The fact that I'll burn 2000 calories is secondary , although very important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My opinion is that it's the active lifestyle and a conscious effort to eat low-fat that allows me to be relatively slim. Sugar consumption is what gives me the little layer of pudge that makes me have to qualify the above statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Sugar consumption is what gives me the little layer of pudge that makes me have to qualify the above statement."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            LOL, I know just what you mean. At some point, I decided it's far more important to enjoy life and what I love (which means having sugar and treats in moderation), as long as I remain healthy, than to try to be "ideally" thin. I spent my 20's being obsessive and it's so much more freeing not being that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You'll burn 2000 calories mountain biking? Okay, that's it, I'm taking up biking!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just the thought of what I could binge on afterwards makes me dizzy! (j/k)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Indeed. Last week after I finished ordering a cranberry/apricot scone, a strawberry/rhubarb muffin and a hot cross bun at the bakery, the lady behind me said jokingly "i'm sure that's all for you!" I laughed along with her, but actually, it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hear, hear. Finding an exhausting activity that is actually FUN to do is key. I play squash 3 times a week, which is probably on of THE most calorie-burning sports out there, if not the highest (at about 400-500/hour), and we play anywhere between 1.5-2 hrs. It is a blast, and never feels like exercise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Or, finding an activity that's not exhausting but that you can do for a long time, like gardening (though I do find that lugging 50 bags of mulch is exhausting), hikes, leisurely bike rides. Even shopping would fill that bill as long as you move it more than strolling, though personally, shopping would be far more painful than other activities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have been searching for decades for the elusive "kind of exercise I enjoy." The only thing that comes close is walking/hiking, and then only if there's pretty scenery or I have a specific destination (e.g. the library). I don't like swimming, team sports, dancing, yoga, jogging, tennis, or any form of exercise that requires coordination, and I never learned to ride a bike. As I said somewhere around here, I hate the gym. I have arranged my life so that I do many of my daily errands on foot, so I generally get the minimum exercise I need without really worrying about it. (I got more before the branch library closed for renovations and they opened a temporary branch a couple of blocks from my house). I'm not complaining, just pointing out that some people don't enjoy exercise, period, so advising them to "find something they enjoy" won't work. Find something you don't hate it more like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is never too late to learn to ride a bike. I am a regular bike rider (3 to 4 days a week for the last 14 years) and it is a great form of non-weight bearing exercise for those of us with joint replacements. I look forward to my rides as much as I look forward to eating...(and eating is something I look forward to a whole hell of a lot)...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, I've been thinking I ought to learn to ride. My husband taught himself last fall, so I know an adult can learn. I grew up on a very steep hill (steep enough that there are a number of municipal stairways), so bicycling wasn't practical as a means of transportation -- anywhere you went, you'd have to walk your bike back up the hill. (People do ride bikes up those hills, but only if they're very gung ho and/or in training for something.) Anyway, now we live in a place that's flat and reasonably bike friendly, and if I learn to ride a bike then we could probably get rid of one of our cars, which is a nice incentive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      " I have arranged my life so that I do many of my daily errands on foot, so I generally get the minimum exercise I need without really worrying about it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's a great solution because it works for you. Anyone who preaches a "one size fits all" solution to exercise is being extreme. As coordination goes, that is a big factor. If you(again the general you) don't mind that's fine, but doing more activities is how to increase coordination. And, really, people who are less coordinated burn far more calories trying a new activity than people who are naturally athletic. I wonder if there is an online quiz where you can input what you like to do, solo or with others, and it gives you a list of activities that might suit you. I vaguely remember seeing something like that in the past. Maybe I'm an optimist/naive but I think there is something that most people can find that involves movement that is more than just barely tolerable. This is from the girl who was picked last in PE every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        From my experience- walking absolutely works. I've gotten into the best shape/weight of my life by walking. I now walk for my commute (including at lunch), and it's made an incredible difference in my shape. Chowser is right- the key is to find something you like. I love it, so I can commit to about 4 miles a day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm in MUCH better shape now than I was when running every day and training for a half-marathon (from 135/140 lbs to 125). Oh, but I also strength train, and I definitely attribute some of the success (especially muscle tone) to that as well. But the combo of both, for me, has been as effective as a more intense type of exercise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm female. I think the problem w/ exercise you hate doing as a weight loss tool is that it's a chore and thus something you look for excuses not to do (you in the general sense). I'm a personal trainer and encourage people to find activities they like that involve moving. Unless a person is super motivated to lose weight and keep it off, workouts for the sake of working out are short lived. They've shown that people who work out regularly and keep weight off are those who do it because of health concerns--if you're told you're going to die unless you do it, you'll do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do think weight loss is predominantly diet influenced (I've read it's about 80%) but exercise does help, considerably and makes it much easier to reach your goals and not feel completely deprived as food goes. I know if I didn't work out, I'd have to cut back a lot, and it would be all my splurge fun foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm male.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like to rub it in when my wife and I are working out together that I'm burning more calories than she is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's just evil. I hope you have more belly fat than she (just kidding). ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a good response to the exercise not being helpful by the chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's a fine argument in favor of exercise. However, before this discussion gets too muddled, I'll point out:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A) It's not a response to Dr. Lustig"s comments, and doesn't address his points.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    B) Dr. Lustig does not claim that exercise is unhelpful, either in weight loss or otherwise. He just states that the main benefits of exercise are not in the calories burned directly during said exercise. He is in favor of exercise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, it's misplaced in the thread. I meant it to respond to the comment above by Jim Leff and exercise. Not directly related to Lustig but a side thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think a couple of you have misunderstood Leff's comment. His comment was PRO exercise, saying it's rubbish to believe that just because you don't burn a bigmac's worth of calories in a single workout, you should give up on exercise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unless, I'm the one confused, of course....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and btw, there are 540 calories in a Big Mac, and I just got back from a 42 minute run that my Garmin thinks burned 400 calories. Fortunately i didn't want a big mac.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I understood, I was posting that to support what Leff was saying above. I just posted in the wrong place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Danna, just to clarify your attempt to clarify my reclarification for the poster who'd posted to the wrong posting :) .......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lustig is pro exercise, but only for metabolic/systemic reasons. He calls calorie burning is a ridiculous notion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with Lustig that metabolic/systemic effects are a major reason to do exercise, but call rubbish on his insistence that calorie burning via exercise is of little or no use in weight loss (because, he says, you can't burn enough calories via exercise to make a big dent in your daily caloric intake). I won't repeat my "marginal" argument, because I'm actually boring myself!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am definitely pro exercise!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Granted, anecodotal evidence isn't necessarily proof of anything, but I can vouch for exercise being a great factor in weight loss based on my training for my first marathon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Going into the meat of my training schedule for my first marathon ever, I had been well into what eventually became a complete lifestyle overhaul. I targeted gradual weight loss over time (basically, dropping 1-2 pounds per month.) That turned out to be spot on, as I had lost between 24-30 lb in each of the last three prior yearly physicals with the doctor before the marathon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The only thing that changed drastically during marathon training was the time spent running. My calorie intake didn't change at all, and I ended up dropping thirty pounds in about 12 weeks (not recommended, trust me on this.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ironically, many people end up gaining a few pounds during this kind of training, probably because they 1) are hungry a lot more and 2) end up thinking they can eat a lot more and at least stay even on the weight scale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Dr. Lustig does not claim that exercise is unhelpful, either in weight loss or otherwise"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Watch the video again. He's incredibly explicit and clear in stating that the usefullness of exercise as a calorie burner is "the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard" (if that's not the precise quote, it's something like that). And he goes on to repound the point several times. Very clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I am not going to speak to the science in the NY Times article, after all a C+ in BioChem kept me off the honor roll one year in high school.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I do commend anyone who takes on sugar and its family members.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I truly wish my mother had an inkling about the dangers of sugar. I have no idea what her diet was when she was pregnant with me in 1958, but I do know from my baby journal that she fed me formula made from whole milk and Karo corn syrup. She was also of the mindset that anytime the baby cried shove a bottle in her mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I look at my baby pictures and see that I was a little round ball of fluffy fat. As a child I was always overweight and growing up in the 1960s my diet was processed food (canned and frozen was somehow considered better by some people). My childhood drinks of choice were chocolate milk made with high sugar Nestle's Quik, and regular coke (Tab and Fresca were blech).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even though I was quite active, I was always the fat kid. Always. And so were my siblings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's been a lifelong struggle, but I have those demons under control now. Basically, I changed three things in my diet. I don't drink diet Coke or any other carbonated beverages (sigh, even beer), I've strongly limited my carb intake, and the big one — I've cut sugar from my diet. (Natural sugar in fruits and veggies are ok though, and I do eat them.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As a result, I'm healthier, lighter, and much happier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now everyone on this board can argue and nitpick about the doctor's theories, methodology, motives, etc...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I think the point that sugar is bad needs to be said...again...and again...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wish my mother had some of this knowledge. Although I developed some health issues, I was fortunate not to get diabetes, unlike some of my other sibs. I'll always wonder if our childhood diets were healthier, and we had less sugar, could we have avoided some of these problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not saying people shouldn't be free to eat what they want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I still have my chocolate cravings, but instead of grabbing a candy bar, I found a little mail order chocolate company in Maine that makes sugar free chocolates that are healthy. It satisfies that urge, and I don't feel deprived. http://store.mainecottagefoods.com/in...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As adults, you can make informed food choices, and do you want. Kids usually can't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The message, even if flawed, I think is important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity looks like a good place to explore these issues. I found a meta-analysis on SSBs (sugar sweetened beverages) and health, and evaluations of policy issues like soft drink taxes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. It is safe to say that everyone who posted here knows overconsumption of sugar is harmful, lets it be sucrose or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). They are bad. I don’t think anyone disagrees. Many of the things which Lustig said are not new. For example, fructose is metabolized through a different pathway than glucose. I think many people know that. For most of the people who are skeptical of Lustig, it is due to his strong assertions on two major points, and these are indeed what he help bring forth to the table. The two new idea: First, fructose is a toxin, and therefore sucrose and HFCS also are. Second, surcose and HFCS are the main culprit for obesity and metabolic dieases. They are not simply important, they are THE very problem. No one here denies that sugars are not an important factor. We all know they are, but the question is that “Is fructose the very problem?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some people may say: It is ok to exaggergate or to even lie as long as it is for a good cause, but that is not a discussion of science. So let's start from the position that data are data and facts are facts, and that we are only here to discuss about science.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To think of fructose as a toxin is a novel concept which has not gained wide support, and yet this is where Lustig contrbutes -- you don’t contribute to a theory which everyone already agreed with. Lustig may turn out to be correct, but the idea is not above questioning. Any revolutionary idea should be questioned and investigated. Same for many other great idea like quantum mechanics and evolution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We know overconsumption of surcose or HFCS is bad. What Lustig brings forth to the table is that these sugars are not only bad when over-consumed. They are bad, period. They have fructose, and fructose is bad at any dose, at any time, at any place. Fructose is a toxin, and there is no safe dose. It is not like salt, fat or cholestorals. This is what Lustig has argued. This is an very interesting idea and it has profound social and political ramifications. If sugar is a truly a toxin, then it should be outlawed or highly regulated, and the government has the responsibility to remove toxins from the general population consumption. We certainly expect our government to remove or minimize mad cow diease, anthrax or lead from our food sources, at the very least tax it and regulate it like tobacco. There is no “if, and, or but”, when dealing with a toxic substance, especially a widely consumed toxin like sugar – assuming it is toxic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is a big difference between “time stops when traveling at speed of light” vs “time travels backward when traveling speed of light”, and there is a real difference between saying “overconsumption of sugar is bad” vs “sugar is a toxic”. Most people I know understand that it is possible to slow time down, but consider time travel backward as impossible. To distinguish the two is not an act of nitpicking. No one disagrees that overconsumption of sugar is bad. The question is: “Is sugar a toxin?” This is not to say Lustig is incorrect. He may very well be correct, but his theory should be looked at closer. If we somehow think “overconsumption of sugar is bad” is interchangable with “sugar is toxic”, then we are in deep trouble. These two statements have vastly differently meaning and different impacts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As for Lutwig's second main point, I will not dicuss it at this moment, but it should also be discussed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Respectfully Chem, I think you're being a little harder on Lustig than need be. Let's look at what you claim are his two big points:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1) Fructose is toxic.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You say that this equates to there not being any safe dosage of fructose. A close viewing of his presentation leads me to believe that he doesn't explicitly support this statement - that you're applying your definition of 'toxic' (admittedly the more common definition of the word) to his quote when in fact he means something a bit weaker. He includes timelines of sugar ingestion, and talks about how a diet of moderate consumption (such as that in pre WWII America) coincided with lower levels of diabetes. The implication would be that lower intake like that of decades past is safe, at least in some respects. Beyond that, he speaks in favor of ingesting fruits, claiming (though not fully explaining) that the fructose contained within is offset by the metabolic effects of the fiber content of the fruit, and also the dosage-moderating effects of ingesting fructose in fruit form. And even beyond that, he admits that ingesting fructose in beverage form can be genuinely beneficial for serious athletes wanting a quicker recharge of energy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rather, I think the statement "fructose is toxic" within the context of his presentation should be interpreted as meaning that:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a- chronic ingestion of fructose, especially in high doses/over-ingestion, likely causes disease. In this way, it is not unlike salt, cholesterol, alcohol, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            b- unlike salt, cholesterol (even alcohol, arguably), there are no benefits of ingesting moderate amounts of fructose, given alternative sources of calories (except in very specific exceptions - the serious athlete drinking Gatorade I mentioned above). Note that this is not the same as saying that there is no SAFE dose. Just no beneficial dose. Basically, though it is always metabolized more or less the same way, we don't have to assume that this implies it will lead to metabolic disease, insulin resistance, or obesity at low dosage - that these phenomena are specifically related to long term chronic over-ingestion, even according to Lusig. (Interestingly, it may be a reasonable interpretation of Lustig's presentation that the cardiovascular inflammation and plaque formation IS associated with small doses of fructose and is a possible exception to the notion of a 'safe dose,' but that's for another post and another argument) He doesn't state this explicitly, but I think it is the most reasonable take-away given the bulk of his argument. There may be (err... almost certainly are) beneficial effects of eating fruit, but those cannot be attributed to their fructose content.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can fault him if you want for stretching the definition of 'toxic.' I'm sure it's gotten him a bit more buzz than he might have had otherwise. But he makes a compelling case for the weaker definition of 'toxic' that I just laid out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also you say that if fructose is 'toxic,' the government should regulate it or ban it outright. I don't think that follows. It's a possibility, but it's outside the scope of his a