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Sugar: The Bitter Truth
October 8, 2009 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Sugar: The Bitter Truth. Robert H. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF, discusses the biochemical properties of fructose and makes the case for why it should be considered, essentially, a poison. [Youtube, 1.5 hours]

While the cane sugar vs high-fructose corn syrup issue is frequently discussed online, the two substances are remarkably similar. Sucrose almost immediately breaks into fructose and glucose (in 50:50 ratio) in digestion, while HFCS contains both in a 55:45 ratio. In Dr. Lustig's view, refined sugar and HFCS can be considered equally bad for humans, due to their fructose content.

His talk is focused on fructose, and goes into detail on the metabolism of it in the liver (since, unlike glucose, fructose can't be used directly by the other parts of the body). He also touches on USDA dietary recommendations, including the recent decades preoccupied with reducing dietary fat, as well as the commonly cited (kcal in - kcal out = weight change) equation and its shortcomings for addressing obesity.
posted by knave (110 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, I was just thinking, I've spent all day hearing awful things about my friends' lives (broken plumbing, broken-into cars, lost jobs...) and feeling shitty and pessimistic, I hope metafilter has something to raise my spirits.

*sob*
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:07 PM on October 8, 2009 [11 favorites]


Unicorns: The Bitter Truth. Franklin Q. Buzzkiller, Professor of Funspoilonics at UKIL, discusses the metaphysical properties of rainbow dust and makes the cases for you should be considered, essentially, a Nazi for loving things that are awesome. [Youtube, 4.7 years]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:16 PM on October 8, 2009 [81 favorites]


Yum, poison.
posted by smackfu at 6:20 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, they are both equally bad. The number of people who think "Fructose is terrible" without the corresponding "Sucrose is terrible" is astounding. I don't care what people think of them as long as they don't think of one as somehow way worse then the other.

As far as the overall risk. Meh. Cars kill a lot of people too, and so does alchohol and sex. Should we ban them? You're going to die no matter what you do, so you might as well enjoy life while you have it. Sweets, booze, drugs, fast cars and fast women (or men) won't kill if you're a reasonable about it. Puritanism of all types, though, will kill your fun.

Chemical phobia (chemophobia?) is just annoying.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 PM on October 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


*sips mocha* He's probably right. *raises straw slightly to pull back that last fluffy wisp of whipped cream* Yeah.

Oh, I couldn't find a transcript yet for this, but here's a transcript of an earlier interview.
posted by adipocere at 6:24 PM on October 8, 2009


Sex kills people? I didn't know that. Should I stop having it? Is wanking considered sex and bad or is this solitary thing not sex but a hobby and thus oik? advise
posted by Postroad at 6:32 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why I drink only distilled water, rain water, and pure grain alcohol.
posted by logicpunk at 6:38 PM on October 8, 2009 [18 favorites]


Should I stop having it? Is wanking considered sex and bad or is this solitary thing not sex but a hobby and thus oik?

Just ask David Carradine
posted by delmoi at 6:40 PM on October 8, 2009


you know, of course, that air is bad for you.....
posted by HuronBob at 6:42 PM on October 8, 2009


Sounds like it came straight out of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Although a single anecdote doesn't compare to a double-blind research study, I've been following a Taubes-esque diet for the last couple of months, limiting only the types of food I eat, and have lost 13 pounds.

Pass me another pound of (unbreaded) chicken wings!
posted by lowlife at 6:47 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


That't it, from now on I'm avoiding fruits and vegetables because of the sugar content and only eating Aspartame.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:48 PM on October 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


I believe this might be a good time to drag out Winston Rowntree's advice on old age from "Things They Don't Tell You (But Should): A Guide to Life".
posted by ob1quixote at 6:59 PM on October 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Here's what's weird about calling fructose a poison: Does that mean all 150,000 years of humankind and about 5 million years of primates eating fruits means that those animals were slowly poisoning themselves? Uh, no. QED.

It's not fructose that's making americans fat.
posted by zpousman at 7:22 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too much of everything is bad for you. Including Oxygen.

Let's imagine a world where all your food and activities have been restricted to what is entirely safe. What kind of a crap existence is that?

Damn I'm sick of this stuff*. Can we just go with the assumption that everything kills you, and the absence of everything kills you, and just live your life and be done with it? This need to make life safe so you can live an extra five minutes is just silly. The market to make everyone feel guilty for everything you do has already been cornered by the church.



*This will kill me too.
posted by chambers at 7:23 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Should I stop having it?

If he does, can I have his sex rations?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for humouring my silly joke, knave. This is actually quite interesting; thanks for posting this.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2009


I don't ordinarily do this, but...

Puritanism of all types, though, will kill your fun.

you know, of course, that air is bad for you.....

These responses are fascinating. I don't think he's telling you what to do with your life. It sounds like Dr. Lustig actually enjoys a good drink, even knowing that ethanol is a poison, too. However, America clearly has a health crisis revolving around obesity, and at a national level we have policies that may be causing the problem. Seems like something worth caring about.

Damn I'm sick of this stuff

Yeah, I'm sick of Glenn Beck, but I don't crap in threads about him. There are people who are interested in health and physiology, this post is for them.

It's not fructose that's making americans fat.

Try watching the linked video and listening to the argument.

Also, all comments prior to 10:34pm EDT can't possibly have listened to Lustig's argument, unless they saw this video before I posted it.
posted by knave at 7:38 PM on October 8, 2009 [17 favorites]


How about less thread moderation and more links to actual written material, preferably with sources?
posted by zabuni at 7:44 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does that mean all 150,000 years of humankind and about 5 million years of primates eating fruits means that those animals were slowly poisoning themselves? Uh, no. QED.

Great point, except that it was directly addressed during the talk what you are missing.

[spoiler]
fiber
[/spoiler]
posted by litghost at 7:45 PM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Slides for the talk, which cite sources.
posted by knave at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2009


Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over Tate and Lyle and that our diet had become unmanageable.
Step 2: We came to admit that a switch to aspartame would restore our lives to sanity
Step 3: We made a decision to turn our diet over to Dr Lustig as we understand him
Step 4: We made a searching and fearless inventory of our food cupboards
Step 5: We admitted to Dr Lustig and to ourselves the exact nature of our poor diet
Step 6: We were entirely ready to ask Dr. Lustig to remove these defects of character
Step 7: Humbly asked Dr Lustig to remove our nutritional shortcomings
Step 8: Made a list of all the cakes and pies that we had consumed, and became willing to make them without sugar in the future
Step 9: Regurgitated such cakes and pies wherever possible, except for where to do so would harm ourselves or others.
Step 10: Continued to take inventory of our food cupboard, and where the contents were sinful, we promptly admitted it.
Step 11: Sought, through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious understanding of the low calorie work of St. Jamie of Oliver and St. Delia of Smith
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to impose our dietary restrictions on other hurf-durfists, whether they wanted us to or not.

It works if you work it so keep working it. Keep throwing up!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:55 PM on October 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just to make an argument from authority:

The presenter of the lecture in the video is Dr Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of California.

The interview that adipocere helpfully linked to was conducted by Dr Norman Swan on Australia's national broadcast network, the ABC. Dr Norman Swan is probably Australia's preeminent medical journalist.

In other words, there might just be some information content here.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 7:57 PM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


America clearly has a health crisis revolving around obesity

No, it doesn't. It really doesn't. Fat doesn't kill, though fat can be a symptom or a side effect of some serious diseases. The much-touted estimates of "obesity costs" are bad or dishonest science.

You know what's really bad for people? Dieting.

That said, I think that, yeah, people should eat more real food and less processed food because fiber and what-not. But it isn't going to make the vast majority of people thinner, because diets don't do that for most people, and neither does exercise for most people, but eating healthier and moving more is much more likely to make everyone live longer, regardless of size.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:59 PM on October 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


Postroad: Sex kills people? I didn't know that. Should I stop having it? Is wanking considered sex and bad or is this solitary thing not sex but a hobby and thus oik? advise

Well, some things are oiker than others . . .



Nah, go for it.
posted by metagnathous at 7:59 PM on October 8, 2009


Its terrific that Dr. Lustig can now state with certainty that sugar is the root of all evil, but I bet decades ago the doctor who declared that fat was the cause of heart disease was no less certain. I can hardly wait for the next pronouncement of what we shouldn't eat.
posted by digsrus at 8:00 PM on October 8, 2009


I meant to link to this really good round-up of anti-"obesity epidemic" research in my last post.

I feel better when I eat less sugar, so I do that. I think that the general "see what works best for your body and go with that" principle is something many people might want to think about trying.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:03 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uhoh Sidhedevil. Now you've done it.

**Waits for first "COUNT CALORIES IN, COUNT CALORIES BURNED, FATTIES** post.

(my anecdata: eliminate bread. Seriously. Lost 12 lbs since husband diagnosed with celiac and we don't keep bread around the house. Lactose intolerance helps too. Still eat sugar, but not cakes. YMMV. Etc.)
posted by emjaybee at 8:05 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Michael Pollan was a dog he'd probably tell you: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly shit.

Woof.
posted by metagnathous at 8:12 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm only half-way through, but this is fascinating.

(It could be shorter, but he's repeating his points to make sure they stick.)
posted by jb at 8:26 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


He addresses the 'calories in/calories out' thing, quite well.

Seriously: watch the video. Then argue with it, by all means, but watch it first.
posted by jrochest at 8:26 PM on October 8, 2009


Great post, thanks Knave.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:33 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Raw cane sugar is lauded for its health qualities anciently and modernly, and it is simply the cane boiled down to a brown mass. How it can be mysteriously credited with preventing silicosis, of all things, should be determined before we run it out of town.
posted by Brian B. at 8:39 PM on October 8, 2009


I suppose I don't dare hope this is some "dihydrogen monoxide" type joke do I?

BTW, Sidhedevil, I was happy to see your brief well linked to-the-point anti-"Obesity Epidemic" stuff. Rock on!
posted by edheil at 8:58 PM on October 8, 2009


In some defense of my negative reaction to the topic of this post, I bare no ill will to his science or research, but in the manner in which it is framed. It's all well and good to categorize fructose as a poison, but it's spoken from a standpoint between scientists where the term can be considered more nuanced than an absolute literal statement in all cases. (exaggerated example: A little bit of Polonium 210 is poison and can kill you does not equate to a little bit of fructose is poison and can kill you. Poison is not using the exact same definition for both.)

What got me going is the most assured possibility that this research, when translated and disseminated to the public for whatever reason, will be diluted as "It's poison! Think of the children!" and begin to start another wave of 'science' based diets and restrictions. When dealing with such matters as telling the public, which generally doesn't have the shared framework of meaning that most scientists take for granted. This lecture he's holding is at a university full of people interested in the subject, and wish to learn more. The problem is, that this will be 'sound-bited' and taken out of it's actual context, and framed to suit either the goal of profit, or dumbed down by the press trying to get a catchy heath segment or blurb on the night's news. But this happens to almost all science news, so I'm not expecting change anytime soon.

It's not the scientist's fault. It's not UCTV's fault, who has so much good science and art lectures available to view, and which I watch frequently. My aggravation comes from what I believe will come of this research by some with no real understanding of it.
posted by chambers at 9:02 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


sidhedevil: No, it doesn't. It really doesn't. Fat doesn't kill, though fat can be a symptom or a side effect of some serious diseases. The much-touted estimates of "obesity costs" are bad or dishonest science.

You're not representing good or honest science by simplifying it down to "fat = good" either.

Yes, lots of people are fat and have little to no added health issues compared to their skinny brethren. But where's the fat? Is it subcutaneous, right under the skin, making your hips look big? That's not necessarily a bad thing, maybe it's even protective. But if it's visceral fat, hanging out in the abdomen and hugging the liver, it's pretty nasty. And I think that's why the articles you linked to are disingenuous. They don't make the distinction, and instead refer to a decades-old study that doesn't really account for the current landscape of obesity.

Let me break it down for you. Some people have an inborn tendency to gain weight around the hips (so-called 'gynoid obesity'), where it's not so bad. Some people tend to accumulate it inside the abdomen, where it causes all sorts of things like insulin resistance and diabetes. If the population as a whole is getting fatter, then the number of people with the bad fat is inevitably going to rise. It's those people who are more likely going to get diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. And that's why it's an important health issue.

(Here's an interesting study about the difference between subcutaneous and visceral fat. Transplant the former into the latter, and mice are much healthier.)
posted by greatgefilte at 9:04 PM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


The talk is excellent, makes some vitally important science-based health information easy to understand, and deserves your time. It did, for me, what Dr. Lustig said it would do as he began: it changed my view of diet and health. It will directly affect what I feed my kids.

(And it really is amazing and sad how many mefites rush to post snide, dismissive reactions, based on uninformed preconceptions, to things they can't be bothered to actually watch/read/consider. The point of an FPP like this is that it contains content that is highly credible and very surprising. A solid percentage of the above comments couldn't possibly have been posted by anyone who watched even part of the linked video.)
posted by namasaya at 9:05 PM on October 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


I've now finished the whole. It's brilliant, but I can't explain why because my grasp of the biochemistry is very tentative.

But the summary was basically: one calorie is not like another - your body handles them differently. Fructose, which is in sucrose and HFCS, is bad for you. It's also in fruits and vegs, but in a) much smaller amounts and b) packaged with lots of fibre and other micronutrients, and fibre is very good for you (and should be considered an essential nutrient).

We need to eat less sugar and HFCS. Also don't eat that much fat, but there is no point in cutting fat if you raise your sugar/HFCS because your body will just store that as fat. (I'm looking at you, low-fat flavoured yogurts - why are you all so sweet? seriously, I like yogurt, I can handle the sour, I just like a little raspberry with my sour. So put in less sugar already, and you'll be healthier and tastier).

Sugar is bad for you; like alcohol, you can enjoy it in moderation. But we only let kids have sips of wine, not bottles, so why do we let them down juice and pop and other sources of fructose?

My (as yet future) kids are going to hate me. My (current) husband might too, if I start harping on his apple juice addiction.
posted by jb at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2009


Sugar is a poison.
Fat causes heart disease.
A high-protein diet damages the kidneys.

What, pray tell, are we supposed to eat?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:29 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't this a double? I know we talked about it in another thread, but perhaps it was only posted in the comments.

Don't make me repost all my comments about HFCS and regular sugar. As much as I hate the HFCS producers, they are right that HFCS isn't different than sugar. They just fail to tell you that sugar is really, really, REALLY bad for you.
posted by Justinian at 9:36 PM on October 8, 2009


"All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." - Paracelsus
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:48 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle:

moderate amounts of protien
enough glucose to move and metabolise
foods with good vitamin content
and a bunch of fibre to keep everything moving right

and occasionally stuff (like sugar and alcohol) that is bad for us, but in moderation. And for people who can't make those choices sensibly - like kids - we don't give them choices. We don't let them chose to spend their lunch money on milk or pop. We just give them milk and water, and tell them to suck it up.

But you could have a good diet from a small amount of meat, a suitable amount of complex carbohydrates (for your physical needs), and lots of fruits and vegetables which have both nutrients and fibre.

But our culture isn't really set up for it. You can't buy food like this when out (and no, salads don't count - they only have a bit of fibre and the dressings have plenty of crap). Getting a healthy snack is really hard, and what you can get has more and more sugar. I wish I could just buy a bit of meat and some vegs in a bun - well, I can, but as a sandwich it costs like $4, whereas I can get an apple turnover with plenty of fat and sugar and just as filling for $1.50 and I'm cash-strapped...
posted by jb at 9:55 PM on October 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


And when I was in Britain, an apple from the grocery store cost TWICE as much as a candy bar (over 70-100p versus 35-50p). Guess which I went for when I was hungry and had £1 for the day?
posted by jb at 9:57 PM on October 8, 2009


The people who are arguing about all this without watching the video are pretty stupid.
posted by hermitosis at 10:01 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK, I've watched the whole video. Interesting and quite well argued, but a little heavy on hyperbole and absolute statements (Alcohol and fructose are exactly the same? Nixon is the cause of everything bad in America?). The huge lump of biochemistry in the middle reminded me structurewise of the speech in Atlas Shrugged—if you keep having to apologize for boring your audience, maybe you should stop boring your audience. Cite a reference and move on.

Anyway, the whole thing leaves me with a question: if fructose is the toxin, is there anybody out there making soda sweetened with glucose (e.g., with regular corn syrup)? Would that solve the problem? Sure, you'd have to use more of it because it's less sweet, but it's the energy of life!
posted by The Tensor at 10:11 PM on October 8, 2009


watch the video

Who has the time? I can read the same amount of content as 1.5 hours of video in 15 minutes.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:45 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


if fructose is the toxin, is there anybody out there making soda sweetened with glucose (e.g., with regular corn syrup)? Would that solve the problem?

It still doesn't solve the problem of all the added sugar. Eat you sugar in fruit and you fill up before you eat much. Eat it in liquid and you get much more. Spiking your insulin with glucose isn't much better than raising your insulin resistance with fructose.

I can read the same amount of content as 1.5 hours of video in 15 minutes.

Exactly. Video is a horribly inefficient vector for transmission of information. However, for all the lazy sugar addicts it is easier than reading and you can take it in while making a nice high fructose snack.
posted by caddis at 10:54 PM on October 8, 2009


I watched the entire hour and 29 minutes and 28 seconds and it was worth it. Fascinating. He makes an excellent argument. Sure, there's some hyperbole. But listen to the man, pay attention to the biochemical evidence he presents.

Find the time and watch and listen to the lecture, it is worth it.
posted by brianstorms at 11:36 PM on October 8, 2009


This presentation was quite surprising to me, as I believe I read Yudkin's book as a child. I know for a fact that I stopped eating candy and almost all processed foods containing sugar as a result of reading some book, and I imagine it must have been Yudkin's, as this was during the early or mid 1970's. Clearly the book had quite an impact on me emotionally.

My mother had developed type II diabetes, and decided to treat it with diet alone rather than conventional medical intervention such as oral hypoglycemic drugs. Our house was full of back issues of Prevention magazine, and books from health food stores.

As a child, unless you have juvenile diabetes, abstaining from sugar will mark you with a supremely weird social stigma! I was tormented for being slightly overweight and having a large vocabulary... Obviously at the time, I was too young to understand the pathophysiology of sugar metabolism, and I believe Yudkin's book focused more on the epidemiology.

Eventually my anti-sucrose resolve weakened, and I returned to eating foods containing sugar like everyone else...

It's been quite some time since I studied biochemistry as part of the pharmacy curriculum, but I could still understand from the video how fructose is metabolized differently than glucose, as Lustig demonstrates this clearly. I will provisionally accept that dietary fructose is a "toxin".

In a broader sense, I enjoy the Internet in general and Metafilter in particular when old conundrums from childhood are touched on, and frequently resolved. Clearly nutrition is a subject that is highly complex, and I'd like to do more research on the subject before becoming an anti-fructose proselyte, but Lustig makes a strong case.
posted by Tube at 11:59 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not fructose that's making americans fat.

Try watching the linked video and listening to the argument.


Yeah, I tried. I finally had to give up and just skip around. For example, "What do we call something that only the liver can metabolize blah blah blah. We call that a poison."

Uh, does that make cyanide not a poison? See The Tensor's comment about hyperbole

There's the uric acid part. Why am I dumping all these ADPs and not running them back through ATP synthase since, you know, I kind of use ATP and recycle it again and again? He does this sort of thing a couple times, assuming that the Krebs cycle is just going to run down this one pathway, without let or hindrance, until my entire body has been reduced to a pile of steaming gray goo.

Then we get to the tables. 0:59:45 - All the error bars overlap The range of results is about 4.96 mg/dL for 0 oz. of softdrink to 5.14 for >36. So I should be worried about a not-statistically significant three percent change? I think not.

Systolic blood pressure - again with the overlapping error bars. Didn't anyone tell him that those things mean something and aren't just there to get you better AM radio reception? And I'm not sure I get his use of z-scores. They're all less than one standard deviation from the mean if I read his chart right, and that makes no sense at all.

1:00:23 - Can you figure out what that graph is showing? I've heard of a box and whisker plot but not a box of whiskers plot. It looks (based on my guess interpretation) that a few individuals have a profound change and most, not so much. To me that suggests that some individuals have an issue with processing this compound, but that this effect is not uniform in the population.

That's less than a minute of video - and it just goes on like that.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:11 AM on October 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


If this video was a book, I'd would get a place of honor in my library next to Steven Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" as a lesson in what not to do. (It was a solid month after reading the first 50 pages of Wolfram before I could speak in the first person again.)

With that in mind, here are some tips for those presenting scientific data:

Don't smirk.

If your results are 1,000,000 to 1,000,003 to 1,000,006 for conditions 0, 1 and 2, do not adjust your scale so that your line has a slope of 3.

Never, ever smirk.

Never ever say proves when you've got data on one relationship involving a complex phenomenon. Suggests or implies maybe, but not proves. ("Frog with no legs is deaf." et al.)

"I just stole all the cookies" is not a good choice of facial expression.

If people have to take in on faith that your graph says what you're telling them it says, it's a crappy graph. Or you're lying.

Oh Christ, get your cheeks botoxed or something.

If you're doing some kind of statistical manipulation on your data, say what and why.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:29 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Fascinating and informative video. I've cut out sugar and alcohol almost completely from my diet recently. Coupled with more fiber and more exercise and I've lost about 20 pounds in 7 weeks. Thanks for posting this.
posted by d1rge at 1:46 AM on October 9, 2009


Here's a thing: "We all evolved to eat fruit and vegetables." But wild variants of the fruit and vegetables aren't like what we eat now. We've bred them for millennia to be bigger and sweeter. I'm sure that still makes fruit and vegetables great things to eat, and better than candy bars, but I'd be interested in seeing the relative nutrient/calorie/densities for modern fruit/veg versus pre-agriculture levels. Largely because I'm always impressed with what our forbears did technology-wise and we all take for granted!
posted by alasdair at 1:53 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I learned that I can cut out some cake and increase the amount of scotch in my life.

He may be right, but I've heard some crazy-ass grand rounds relying on terrible or misinterpreted data. I'd rather see his review article and the subsequent debate in the literature. Something like that happens here. Also, he sounds a little crazy sometimes, though that article isn't available online.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:15 AM on October 9, 2009


No, it doesn't. It really doesn't. Fat doesn't kill, though fat can be a symptom or a side effect of some serious diseases. The much-touted estimates of "obesity costs" are bad or dishonest science.

You know what's really bad for people? Dieting.
Ohh, look at me I'm all edgy and counterintuitive, saying the opposite of everyone else, who are all just sheep with their heads in the sand! Look, this blog and random internet site back up my assertions!

I'm not saying the actual dollar costs of being fat are that high, but I'm sure the health effects of being obese (rather then just overweight) are real.

--

Also pretty much any "remove this food item" diet will cause you to lose weight. It's because if you remove a common ingredient in a lot of foods, there's not that much left to eat and eating gets boring.

(It was a solid month after reading the first 50 pages of Wolfram before I could speak in the first person again.)

I haven't read NKS but what do you mean by that? I always thought Wolfram was a bit of a pompus ass for his stunts, with NKS and Wolfram|Alpha, which was way over rated.

Oh and speaking of wolfram alpha An apple contains 19 grams of sugar, a cup of grapes contains 24 grams of sugar, a 12 ounce can of pepsi contains 13 grams of sugar, and a Snickers Bar contains 31 grams.

So really fruits and junkfoods contain about the same amount of sugar, especially if you're not measuring exact serving sizes. To say "fruits contain less sugar" is really just false.
posted by delmoi at 2:31 AM on October 9, 2009


This is indeed a dupe. Original here, though it wasn't the main subject of that post: http://www.metafilter.com/84183/UCTV-on-YouTube
posted by fraula at 2:48 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


To say "fruits contain less sugar" is really just false.

Who said that?
posted by fleacircus at 3:32 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


fructose don't kill people, people with fructose kill people
posted by mattoxic at 5:23 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does that mean all 150,000 years of humankind and about 5 million years of primates eating fruits means that those animals were slowly poisoning themselves? Uh, no. QED.

Yeah! If Homo erectus could subsist on Coke and M&Ms all day and live to be 90, we should be able to as well!

LOGIC IS FUN!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:57 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Never, ever smirk.

This is an classic moment.
posted by Kiwi at 6:21 AM on October 9, 2009


a classic. not an classic.
posted by Kiwi at 6:23 AM on October 9, 2009


1:00:23 - Can you figure out what that graph is showing? I've heard of a box and whisker plot but not a box of whiskers plot.

That has nothing to do with a box-and-whiskers plot. It's pretty obvious to me that the plot is showing a decrease for the right panels. I would need statistical analysis to believe it, but I'm not really sure that's necessary in a review lecture when the original peer-reviewed paper in JAMA is cited.
posted by grouse at 6:26 AM on October 9, 2009


Who pissed in his Pixy Stix? *eats gummi bears and likes it*
posted by stormpooper at 6:53 AM on October 9, 2009


Oh and speaking of wolfram alpha An apple contains 19 grams of sugar, a cup of grapes contains 24 grams of sugar, a 12 ounce can of pepsi contains 13 grams of sugar, and a Snickers Bar contains 31 grams.

So really fruits and junkfoods contain about the same amount of sugar, especially if you're not measuring exact serving sizes. To say "fruits contain less sugar" is really just false.
posted by delmoi at 5:31 AM on October 9 [+] [!]


So, an apple has 2/3 the sugar of a Snickers Bar, and a whole lot of fibre and nutrients. If you watched the video, then you know that fibre is very good for you. How much fibre does a can of pepsi or a candy bar have?
posted by jb at 7:09 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


As much as a glass of healthy fruit juice?
posted by smackfu at 7:15 AM on October 9, 2009


So, an apple has 2/3 the sugar of a Snickers Bar, and a whole lot of fibre and nutrients. If you watched the video, then you know that fibre is very good for you. How much fibre does a can of pepsi or a candy bar have?

I haven't watched the video, because I am at work where I should be working, but I also think that fruits + fiber + a whole lot of water means that the sugar the fruit will be metabolized less quickly.

It is sheer amount + adding fat and salt + not having water and fiber to bulk up the product that makes many foods with HFCS so bad. Because we evolved on the edge of famine, we're hard-wired to want them. Well now we got 'em all over the place, and we subsidized them so they are cheap. Well WTF do people expect to happen?

Again, I haven't watched, so people can move right along, but I think the issue of sugar, sucrose, fructose, HFCS can be distilled into

1) a lot of farm welfare is being given to corn producers
2) thus they produce a lot of corn
3) they gotta do something with it
4) they make junk food with lots of sugar, salt, fat, and not a lot of fiber and water
5) they can sell it cheaply because they are subsidized
6) we eat it because it is cheaper and tastier

we become giganormous.

SO fructose or even HFCS might not be worse or marginally worse than sugar but the delivery package, me suspects, means we're gonna get a lot more of it in our bloodstream, and a lot quicker - which is worse.

And these quick fructose delivery system food sexist both because they are tastier, but mostly because they are cheaper because at least in the US, we the taxpayer help pay for them.
posted by xetere at 7:28 AM on October 9, 2009


Then we get to the tables. 0:59:45 - All the error bars overlap The range of results is about 4.96 mg/dL for 0 oz. of softdrink to 5.14 for >36. So I should be worried about a not-statistically significant three percent change? I think not.

While you may interpret overlapping confidence intervals as a lack of statistically significant difference (although you really shouldn't), this is not what's actually being tested here. Even considering the error bars, it's hard to deny that there's a trend here. And if you look at the paper the figure is taken from, you'll see that the p-value of 0.01 presented here actually refers to a test for the trend, not for differences between individual groups. The paper states that the difference in serum uric acid levels between the highest and lowest categories is "only" 0.18 mg/dL. I don't know whether you should worry or not because I don't understand the science, but there is definitely a trend here.

1:00:23 - Can you figure out what that graph is showing?

Yeah, this is a pretty standard plot to show individual "before and after" differences, but they can get hard to read with too much data. The trends can be seen more easily by referring to the confidence intervals plotted on the left and right sides.
posted by ocha-no-mizu at 7:36 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


As much as a glass of healthy fruit juice?
posted by smackfu 17 minutes ago [+]


Exactly. Which is why, if you watched the video, you would know that the presenter said that we shouldn't be giving kids any sugared drinks, including juice: just water and milk.
posted by jb at 7:38 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


That has nothing to do with a box-and-whiskers plot.

That was a bit of a joke since there were hundreds of little lines in there - ergo "box of whiskers".

It's pretty obvious to me that the plot is showing a decrease for the right panels.

He shows a decrease on average, but look at the individual lines in there. Scads of them are horizontal and a number go up. Like I said, this suggests to me that some people might have blood pressure issues related to uric acid. Maybe. (Rogaine was a treatment for high blood pressure that reversed hair loss - if you argue that hair loss is caused by high blood pressure based on this alone, I'm going to look at you funny.) If uric acid was the direct cause of everyone's high blood pressure and taking fructose out of our diet would SAVE US ALL (tm), there should have been a more uniform change.

A much better way to have plotted this would have been to show a histogram of either the change in blood pressure. And if you're doing it to show fructose yadda yadda blood pressure, maybe setting up a couple cohorts - put one on an overall low sugar diet, one gets non-fructose containing sugars and a third that's high fructose corn syrup a go go and then run the test on them.

As it is, he's extrapolating from a population with an issue to the population at large. If he said we'd all live longer on chemotherapy because cancer patients do, that would be insane. Why should the logic be any different for hypertension? The study should have included normal, borderline and hypertensive people, divided up among the three cohorts to see if there was an overall trend or if hypertensive people just have uric acid regulation issues (assuming uric acid is a cause and not just an indicator).

As it is, he's extrapolating quite a bit from what is essentially one big data point (the mean delta). In the citadel of big pharma Remember us? We're the one's who always get accused of not being rigorous enough in our testing? my boss would spank if I did something like this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:44 AM on October 9, 2009


Kid Charlemagne:
Yeah, I tried. I finally had to give up and just skip around. For example, "What do we call something that only the liver can metabolize blah blah blah. We call that a poison."

Uh, does that make cyanide not a poison?
False syllogism. He is not saying that this property is the only and necessary property to put something in the poison category. He is simply saying that it is one of the ways something can gain entry to this category. Your logic is faulty.

And then your further contribution:
Oh Christ, get your cheeks botoxed or something.
Do you really think, KC, that you are contributing to this discussion?

For those who are interested in evaulating serious scientific research but might not want to watch a whole 1.5 hour video, the interview that adipocere linked to at the top of the thread is concise and informative.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 8:15 AM on October 9, 2009


Fructose is not the same as glucose or sucrose. The glycemic index of fructose is a fraction of that of the other forms of sugar, ie it raises your blood sugar a lot less. This might sound like a good thing, but it is not.
It's quite well explained here.
posted by w0mbat at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2009


Fructose is not the same as glucose or sucrose.

No kidding. The important part is that sucrose is one-half glucose, one-half fructose.
posted by grouse at 8:42 AM on October 9, 2009


I did a biased summary of this video back in august. The American Heart Association also weighed in with some recommendation on sugar consumption not to long ago.
posted by bigmusic at 9:15 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


we shouldn't be giving kids any sugared drinks, including juice: just water and milk.

Oh noes! MILK!

Cue the anti-dairy team...
posted by mikelieman at 9:26 AM on October 9, 2009


And when we finally leave our chemical bodies behind and become purely energy beings, we'll be hearing about harmful interference on our frequencies from radio sources. Stay away from pulsars, kids!
posted by Eideteker at 9:48 AM on October 9, 2009


That said, I think that, yeah, people should eat more real food and less processed food because fiber and what-not. But it isn't going to make the vast majority of people thinner, because diets don't do that for most people, and neither does exercise for most people,

Sidhedevil,

I can totally dig this, because people seem to have so much trouble losing fat. However; what explains the rise in average weight in the US over the last two decades? Why are Americans and the British so much fatter than Dutch people?

Those aren't rhetorical questions, I'm genuinely interested to know. I understand that at the individual level people may have little control over their weight, but what explains the population level differences?
posted by atrazine at 9:49 AM on October 9, 2009


Do you really think, KC, that you are contributing to this discussion?

No, I'll admit that by that point I'd gone straight over into mockery.

You want solid science with a minimal of smart assedness? OK, here goes: If that is the only necissary property to put something in the poison catagory, why is hemoglobin not a poison? I'm thinking of it's breakdown product billirubin, and yes, a buildup of bilirubin is a bad thing, but it's identical to the logic he's using for fructose to uric acid except that bilirubin is where hemoglobin IS going, not one possible destiny for hemoglobin.

Why is he going from ADP to uric acid when ADP is converted back to ATP again and again and again and is content to hang out as ADP if the necissary energy to make it into ATP is not available. What he's arguing is that your body is like a woodworker who, every time he dulls a chisel or a plane, he throws it away and buys a new one.

Why does he continually ignore the fact that the Krebs Cycle is heavily branching and highly regulated and stick to one or two potential products that don't seem particularly probable.

(At this point my urge to go back to mockery kicks in, so I'm going to stop now.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2009


I'm jumping in a bit late here, (yes watched the whole thing.) An interesting point that he made, is that 30, 40 years ago there was also an excess of food. You could walk into any grocery store, buy sodas and candy, and bacon. But people weren't getting obese in the numbers of today, certainly children weren't, and 6 month olds weren't. Sure you could blame TV and desk jobs for lack of exercise, and maybe genetics make some people susceptible to obesity. Which of those things would make people today eat more calories than before? Why do people today eat more than they need to? There is supposed to be a satiety response to keep hunger in check. Fructose does not create this response, and more calories are consumed.

Satiety response is effective at managing diet, as it had been "naturally" for the previous several centuries of human food chain stability. We even create bariatric surgeries to create a satiety response from your stomach being full, by making a smaller stomach. It would make sense for people trying to manage their diet and weight to look for foods that create this satiety response. Whole grains, potatoes, and meat top the list, as does raw fruit. Raw fruit has fiber that creates the satiety response along with fructose. ("A satiety index of common foods", European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995)

Also interesting to note, that low serotonin levels also lowers satiety response. (linking obesity and depression)

delmoi: "As far as the overall risk. Meh. Cars kill a lot of people too, and so does alchohol and sex. Should we ban them?"

Maybe you'd find this point from the video interesting: our government does strictly limit a nutrient known to cause long-term chronic illness: alcohol. The point he's making is that fructose also leads to chronic illness-- obesity. The basis for restricting alcohol isn't for personal safety, it's for public safety. (Don't kill me driving drunk) However, tobacco is regulated on the basis of personal health and safety, as well as public (second hand smoke ->smoking bans). When obesity becomes a public health hazard, and in fact maybe fostered by government farm subsidies and WIC, shouldn't other reasonable deterrents or warnings be put in place?

Yes, I realize the counter argument to this is that it comes down to personal responsibility and personal choice. It's so convenient to picture every obese person as a slob on a couch playing video games and eating doritos and mountain dew. The truth is, it's not so simple. No one chooses to be obese, certainly infants and toddlers don't choose to be obese, any more than people choose to be drug addicts.* To quote a psychiatrist often on call to the ER in a rough inner-city hospital: "I diagnose a crappy life."
posted by fontophilic at 12:35 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


A thousand small bad choices add up to a crappy life.
posted by smackfu at 12:51 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe this interview came out over a year ago. I listened to it several times and studied the transcript and then thought, "what the hell" and tried it. So I lived for about 3 months without refined sugar, or refined carbs. I did eat plenty of fruit (grapes, bananas, apples, oranges) and high sugar vegetables such as carrots. As he said in the interview - an orange comes with fiber and other stuff that aids in the digestion of the sugar so it doesn't cause a corresponding spike in insulin that a glass of orange juice (processed sugar) does.

I've never been an overweight person. I'm 5' 11" tall and have a average-to-narrow frame. I started at 181 lbs so my BMI (not that BMI is particularly valuable) was "normal". After 3 months I my weight was down to 154 lbs and I felt great. My physical exercise did not change during this period.

So, from my personal experience - there is something to what he says.

I spent some time with Google and found Dr. Lustig's e-mail address. I wrote him a short e-mail sharing my personal experience and thanking him for sharing his research. I also asked if he was planning on writing a book soon, as I had some friends who would benefit from it. He actually responded to me in a very gracious manner. He concluded his response by saying that he felt it would be to publish theories without a great body of research and data to back them up.

Long story short - I found Dr. Lustig's research to be well grounded, and found the man himself to be a dedicated principled researcher.
posted by digibri at 1:09 PM on October 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


But it isn't going to make the vast majority of people thinner, because diets don't do that for most people, and neither does exercise for most people

I really wish people would stop linking to that Time article as proof that exercise is ineffective. Here is Dr. Timothy Church's study. From the paper:

We confirmed the findings of previous studies that a relatively high dose of exercise (12 KKW or 194 minutes per week) results in compensatory mechanisms that attenuate weight loss in previously sedentary women. However, a dose of exercise consistent with the exercise prescription for general health (8 KKW or 136 minutes per week) did not result in compensation as the actual weight loss closely matched the predicted weight loss.

What it comes down to is everyone in the study lost some weight, but those who exercised the most lost less than what would have been expected. Dr. Church says his findings were misrepresented in the Time article.
posted by lexicakes at 3:23 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if I have a glass of Metamucil, that means I can eat a gallon of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream, right? Awesome.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:23 PM on October 9, 2009


The funny thing is that in Weight Watchers, fiber does cancel out calories (1g fiber = -10 calories), so yes, you could have the ice cream on that plan. If you had a LOT of Metamucil.
posted by smackfu at 4:02 PM on October 9, 2009


Sitting on your butt watching a 90 minute youtube video will make you fat.
posted by chairface at 4:10 PM on October 9, 2009


Sitting on your butt watching a 90 minute youtube video will make you fat.

He recommends requiring one unit of play time for one unit of screen time for kids.
posted by Brian B. at 4:24 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


atrazine: I understand that at the individual level people may have little control over their weight, but what explains the population level differences?

The End of Overeating addresses some cultural factors, specifically the way processed foods (including, IIRC, many foods served at highbrow restaurants, not just fast food joints) have been designed (eg, injected with fat) to make consumers to scarf down ever greater amounts of food. Lots of time spent on the food industry's efforts to make foods ever more "palatable," with layers of salts, sugars, and fats. The thing that's stuck with me is that the injected fats make meat easily able to swallow without needing to chew much. Because chewing normal, unprocessed food like crunchy vegetables, or meat that's less than melt-in-your-mouth, leads to jaw fatigue, which contributes to satiety and deciding it's time to stop eating. Hat tip to whoever it was that recommended this book in the MeTa obesity thread sometime in the past 6 months or so.

fontophilic: There is supposed to be a satiety response to keep hunger in check.

Yeah, and You On A Diet is another book that addresses this and the biochemical adaptations that our bodies make when confronted with routinely ingesting vast quantities of sugar, fat, overeating food in general -- adaptations that completely short-circuit the satiety response.

These two books really brought home for me how judgmental and uninformed it is to say shit about fat people being self-indulgent weak-willed [insert term of contempt here]. Of course exercise helps. It's necessary but, for many people, insufficient on its own.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:32 PM on October 9, 2009


Oh and speaking of wolfram alpha An apple contains 19 grams of sugar, a cup of grapes contains 24 grams of sugar, a 12 ounce can of pepsi contains 13 grams of sugar, and a Snickers Bar contains 31 grams.

One more reason to distrust Wolfram's shitty source data. A 12 oz can of Pepsi contains 41 grams of carbs (according to Pepsi).
posted by benzenedream at 5:48 PM on October 9, 2009


Ah yes, once again, it's the all-too-familiar knee-jerk reaction against a post about health and diet. Such a depressingly common feature of Metafilter. The overwhelming flood of scorn, mockery and derision in this thread against the message Lustig delivers, it's like a law of nature here. People just fall over themselves getting in the almost comically predictable comments: a litany of "hey, everything'll kill you, amirite?" and "mmm... yummy poison!" and "funspoiler tin-foil-hat crackpot!" and "people have been eating sugar for thousands of years!" and "yeah, I'm not ever eating a fruit or vegetable again" and "in the future they'll be warning about your brainchip photon analyzer" and god, it goes on and on ad nauseum. And it's so clear that so many of the folks making these kinds of comments have NOT watched the video.* But I tell you, the steadfast, iron-willed determination to KEEP EATING TOTAL CRAP and NOT WANTING TO HEAR ANYONE TELLING ME IT'S TOTAL CRAP is just so strong here (particularly among Americans) I wouldn't dare try to fight it. I fear I might be lynched. Keep eating your high-fructose corn syrup, people! Drink it down by the gallon!

But one thing I feel compelled to say is this: I do hope that many of you who are so dismissive of this kind of health information are not parents giving your toddlers sugary drinks and crap processed food every day. Cause the kids don't know any better. And they will (very very quickly) get hooked on that stuff. And they'll suffer for it later. Perhaps you might imagine them, 20 or 30 years from now, coming across your clever comment here in this thread, and finding your easy, dismissive snark to be of very little comfort as they wage their battle against diabetes or obesity or any number of health problems directly related to (that's right) their childhood intake of poison. Yeah, poison. Lustig calls it that and I agree. He's talking about poison, and if you watch his presentation and still strongly disagree, well, heck, you just too far gone down the processed food highway, brother! Ain't no helping you! But try to do better for your kids, if and when you have them.

Thanks for posting this, knave. Lustig's presentation was interesting, informative, and well worth the time it takes to view.

*well put, namasaya
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:02 PM on October 9, 2009 [12 favorites]


I found a reference to the the uric acid thing. The punchline is that you need to overwhelm your fructose-I-phosphate aldolase to get the effect he's on about. So don't do that.

Their conclusion has a slightly different feel than his:

Although fructose alone is less insulinogenic and glucogenic than equal amounts of glucose or sucrose, when consumed with glucose and after dietary adaptation to a mixed diet containing fructose, these responses usually are not different from responses after dietary adaptation to other sugars, or are greater than after dietary adaptation to complex carbohydrate diets. Insulin sensitivity may be impaired before changes in fasting glucose or insulin are altered. Therefore, fructose may be considered no worse than other sugars, but also no better. With regard to blood lipids, there is overwhelming evidence that fructose increases plasma triglycerides. Under some conditions, dietary fructose may cause increases in plasma cholesterol. Other risk factors that may be increased in some people include uric acid and lactic acid. Although it is virtually impossible and certainly undesirable to consume a fructose-free diet, as fructose is a component of many fruits and vegetables, there is little evidence, except possibly for type I diabetes, that in a mixed diet added fructose provides any advantage over other sugars. In patients with hypertension, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and gout, it may be disadvantageous to replace other sugars with fructose.

If people wanted to avoid a knee jerk reaction to their posts about health and diet they should probably find things that read more like the above and less like, "POISON, DEATH, POISON, DEATH, POISON, DEATH!"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:06 PM on October 9, 2009


Nah, you'd still be a dick.
posted by fleacircus at 10:17 PM on October 9, 2009


have NOT watched the video

I don't have 90 minutes to waste.

Plus, Kid Charlemagne pwned it pretty bad. I see the sort of thing he mentioned all the time in junk science articles (e.g. adjusting scales on graphs to make a trivial difference look HUGE!!!). I trust a guy who knows what the Krebs cycle is a lot more than I trust someone who sounds like a religious convert denouncing heretics.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:33 AM on October 10, 2009


have NOT watched the video

I don't have 90 minutes to waste.


Haha! Well, how convenient for you, that you know so certainly beforehand what will or won't be a waste of your time!

Oh, sorry, did I say "convenient for"? I meant "pathetic of".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:47 AM on October 10, 2009


Wait, didn't we have exactly the same conversation in another metafilter thread only a couple of weeks ago. Same arguments, same snark.

Here it is. There's even a link to the video there.

Oh, and those Wolfram statistics on sugar content appear to be complete bunk.
posted by pharm at 1:47 AM on October 10, 2009


That's true, a pepsi has something like 40 some grams of sugar, not 12.
posted by caddis at 9:05 AM on October 10, 2009


If people wanted to avoid a knee jerk reaction to their posts about health and diet they should probably find things that read more like the above and less like, "POISON, DEATH, POISON, DEATH, POISON, DEATH!"

Linking to 1990 journal articles to avoid words like "soda belly" does not prevent soda belly.
posted by Brian B. at 9:55 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


did I say "convenient for"? I meant "pathetic of".

Curse me for a heretic.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:56 PM on October 11, 2009


Curse me for a heretic.

Nah, that's not what's going on here. Casting yourself as some romantic and noble "heretic" standing up against the oppressive crowd is a construct of your own mind, and has no basis in reality. It implies that you've gone against some sort of rigid orthodoxy that I espouse, which is not the case. I'm merely saying that when you tell me you know what someone "sounds like" in the same breath that you indicate you "have NOT" listened to him, you cast yourself as a fool. Surprising that you'd even admit such a thing, that you wouldn't be embarrassed to do so, in a public forum. Why would anyone respect your opinion?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 PM on October 11, 2009


The thing is, flapjax, they have this amazing data transfer method call reading that is faster than having someone read to you. Plus, in that format, you can put the graphs in such that they're legible and hyperlink back to pubmed articles and the like. As it was, this was like trying to read something technical in a low contrast font as is scrolled across the bottom of a screen playing to "The Old Time Gospel Hour".

And I still want someone to explain why hemoglobin is not a poison. (I mean using the logic as presented.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:15 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing is, flapjax, they have this amazing data transfer method call reading that is faster than having someone read to you.

"Reading", eh? Huh. Well, there you go! You learn something new on Metafilter every day! You're a clever fellow, Kid Charlemagne, and so witty, too!

So, you're saying, then, that this guy Havok read a transcript of Lustig's talk? That would go a long way in explaining how he could characterize it as "junk science" without having watched the lecture. Yeah, that would explain everything. Gotta say, he really should have indicated that from the beginning. I mean, told us that he'd read it. Of course, if he didn't, then everything I've said to him so far still stands.

BTW, got a link to that transcript? I'd like to read it too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:22 AM on October 12, 2009


Also, tone carries oh so well through text (as we all know), which is why Havok was able, based only on this alleged transcript, to characterize Dr. Lustig as "sounds like a religious convert denouncing heretics", right?

Have we truly reached the point where listening to somebody who's spent years studying a subject give an in-person lecture on a subject he's passionate about is considered too slow, too boring, too much of a waste of time to bother with?
posted by Lexica at 10:48 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's pretty sad, isn't it, Lexica?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:39 PM on October 12, 2009


I'm merely saying that when you tell me you know what someone "sounds like"

Yep, I know exactly what you sound like: religious.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:34 AM on October 13, 2009


Later for you, Havok. You're really coming off like a moron, and you really aren't embarrassed at saying something sucks that you haven't even listened to. Ain't wasting no more breath on you, pal. Good luck to you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:49 AM on October 13, 2009


Uh, no, I'm saying that the content and transfer of well written article would have been infinitely preferable to a 90 minute video of what came across as an extended rant. I'll cheerfully admit that I skipped around and only dug deep into a few brief portions of the video because after a while I just wanted to smack the guy.

Looking at this for 90 minutes would have been a lot more profitable if you really wanted to know the potential endpoint for every atom of every molecule of fructose (or glucose, manose or galactose) you consume.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:55 AM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll cheerfully admit that I skipped around...

Haha! Well, at least you're cheerful about it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:26 AM on October 13, 2009


KC: That diagram doesn't really tell you what proportions end up being funnelled down which pathways though, which is kind of the point.

My question is, ignoring the 'poison, poison' stuff, which is just a rhetorical device, does the science make sense or not? He makes some specific claims which should be easily disprovable if they're the bunk you claim they are.
posted by pharm at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2009


I finally watched the whole thing this weekend, and I can see where KC and others are revulsed by the guy's presentation style. A good scientist tries to disprove his/her hypotheses, not evangelize their conclusions. I believe most of his epidemiological data and most of the fructose metabolism effects (TG, etc.), but am unsure if his overall conclusion is correct.

His hypothesis seems to be: fructose goes through a different metabolic pathway than glucose, and this difference in metabolism accounts for caloric intake increases by bypassing normal satiety mechanisms. Fiber is protective against these effects, thus fruit doesn't cause the same health problems as fructose-based sweeteners.

If fructose metabolism is really the main player in obesity, we should be able to substitute monosaccharide glucose as a sweetener to eliminate "soda belly". Maltose doesn't have fructose in it but is not very sweet tasting compared to sucrose or glucose alone, and so wouldn't make a good control carbohydrate. Do a months-long study on weight gain using either glucose or sucrose-based drinks and see if patients gain more on sucrose/fructose. If glucose does not bypass satiety and fructose does, fructose drink patients will gain more weight. I took a quick look on pubmed for such a study and found this:
To assess the relative effects of these dietary sugars during sustained consumption in humans, overweight and obese subjects consumed glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages providing 25% of energy requirements for 10 weeks. Although both groups exhibited similar weight gain during the intervention, visceral adipose volume was significantly increased only in subjects consuming fructose. Fasting plasma triglyceride concentrations increased by approximately 10% during 10 weeks of glucose consumption but not after fructose consumption. In contrast, hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and the 23-hour postprandial triglyceride AUC were increased specifically during fructose consumption. Similarly, markers of altered lipid metabolism and lipoprotein remodeling, including fasting apoB, LDL, small dense LDL, oxidized LDL, and postprandial concentrations of remnant-like particle–triglyceride and –cholesterol significantly increased during fructose but not glucose consumption. In addition, fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels increased and insulin sensitivity decreased in subjects consuming fructose but not in those consuming glucose. These data suggest that dietary fructose specifically increases DNL, promotes dyslipidemia, decreases insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults.


So basically, all of the "bad" metabolic syndrome-related effects mentioned in the talk occur, but not any extra weight gain. This does not support the hypothesis that fructose bypasses satiety and is a key player in causing obesity. It does support the hypothesis that fructose in large doses may exacerbate metabolic syndrome and cause diabetes in an obese population.

I agree with Lustig that caloric beverages contribute to obesity, but I think he is overstating fructose's role. It's equally likely that any simple carbs in liquid form bypass satiety irregardless of their metabolic end fate, generating the initial obese state, and then fructose helps push metabolism over into the metabolic syndrome/pre-diabetic state once a person is obese. The real health question is, would switching to glucose sweeteners prevent any Type II diabetes, and if so, how much? Obesity without the associated cardiac risk and Type II diabetic complications would not be ideal, but would be much better than the current situation. It would also be easy to convince the HFCS industry not to use glucose isomerase to generate the fructose, since it's an extra step in the process with a pricey enzymatic conversion.
posted by benzenedream at 4:59 PM on October 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


No, it doesn't. It really doesn't. Fat doesn't kill, though fat can be a symptom or a side effect of some serious diseases. The much-touted estimates of "obesity costs" are bad or dishonest science.

You know what's really bad for people? Dieting.

That said, I think that, yeah, people should eat more real food and less processed food because fiber and what-not. But it isn't going to make the vast majority of people thinner, because diets don't do that for most people, and neither does exercise for most people, but eating healthier and moving more is much more likely to make everyone live longer, regardless of size.


I'm just disappointed that so many people are keen to the idea of switching words around and conflating ideas on such simplistic things.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:36 PM on October 13, 2009


* currently craving one, or more, French crullers. mmmmmmm
posted by caddis at 10:16 PM on October 13, 2009


The science makes sense if you look at just the science. I don't think he's making it up out of whole cloth. The link I posted pretty clearly shows that it is a pathway that fructose can go down. I dare say that a diet that is extremely rich in any one compound is going to do a number on you over time.

But Lustig isn't giving us the whole picture - he's picked some facts and he's running with them. I don't question the technical accuracy of some of what he's saying, but wild extrapolation can lead you to some pretty preposterous conclusions. And once he covers it over in a layer of the "poison poison" stuff he's got an audience that he's primed to make health decisions that are mediocre at best.

If you have a Coke every day with lunch, I'm thinking your probably just fine. If half of your maintenance callories are comming from carbonated beverages, then yeah, you probably have some issues, and it the ammount of fructose you consume is probably just the tip of the iceburg.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2009


Kid, you're attempting to use facts and reason on a religious proselyte. WATCH THE VIDEO!!!!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


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