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Fructose Alters Human Metabolism
December 15, 2009 11:47 AM   Subscribe

New research: Sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup alter human metabolism, digestion
posted by jefficator (151 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm convinced HFCS is poison. Not so much because of the specifics of that type of sugar, but because readily available sugar in everything we eat and drink is just not healthy. I've also been really fascinated by Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories, a very careful and meticulous documentation of the science around carbohydrates, fat, and health. The details are incredibly complicated, but the basic message is there's lots of suggestions that a high carbohydrate diet is really bad for humans.
posted by Nelson at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Of course causation does imply correlation.
posted by Babblesort at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's cool, I'll just use some artificial sweeteners. Wait, they're trouble, too? Ah, bother.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2009


interesting.

(*drinks 3rd mountain dew of the day*)
posted by empath at 11:57 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why is it that new chemicals always seem to do bad things to the human body? Where are the artificial chocolate flavorings that give you x-ray vision?
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:57 AM on December 15, 2009 [24 favorites]


*throws away soda*
posted by lysdexic at 11:57 AM on December 15, 2009


So have any studies noted significant differences between the metabolism and digestion of people from the US, where a lot of HFCS is consumed, and other countries such as the UK, where most of the refined sugar consumed is sucrose? Because if this study is meaningful, you'd expect to see significant health differences between the two.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Can someone link me to the actual study? (I have no idea if it's even out yet, but I'm curious and my google-fu is weak today.)
posted by sperose at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2009


I'm not really sure why that article focused its ire at HFCS specifically when it says right there:

[T]he research appears to show that sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are not that different
posted by Pollomacho at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


This might be one of the studies, judging from the Times Online article that Laskawy links to.
posted by Mister Cheese at 12:02 PM on December 15, 2009


HFCS is a great salve for post-circumcision and declawing operations.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:03 PM on December 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Previously.

Too bad one of the sweeteners "like" HFCS is ordinary organic sugar. It's half fructose as well.

I think a more accurate version would be: "large amounts of quickly absorbed fructose such as that found in many convenience foods sweetened with table sugar or HFCS are bad for you", but that kind of reportage doesn't allow me to eat a 10-pack of raisin cookies from Whole Foods.
posted by benzenedream at 12:03 PM on December 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


@Nelson, me too. The implications of that book are huge.
posted by Zinger at 12:04 PM on December 15, 2009


I'm not really sure why that article focused its ire at HFCS specifically when it says right there:

[T]he research appears to show that sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are not that different


That quote was from a previous study.
posted by kmz at 12:04 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pollomacho - I believe that quote came out of last year's studies, which concluded that while there might be some differences in how HFCS is metabolized, it appeared to be "not in a way that makes the calories from high-fructose corn syrup more likely to be stored as fat."

Then, we have a study that looks at exactly that, which appears to show that fructose is handled differently and is stored as fat around major organs.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2009


Free download of the study here.
posted by greatgefilte at 12:07 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Previously on HFCS.

It's so silly that it's under the same "Sugars" heading on food labels as natural fruit sugars and lactose and the like. I feel like people should know better than to equate the sugar in Coke to the sugar in orange juice or milk. Example here (original thread). Sure, the information is there in the ingredients list but I doubt if most people read and understand this section of the label.
posted by battlebison at 12:07 PM on December 15, 2009


This might be one of the studies, judging from the Times Online article that Laskawy links to.

Yeah, here's another article on it from last April, which points out that glucose != sucrose. Bizarre that the Times is treating this as news.
posted by smackfu at 12:08 PM on December 15, 2009


Damn, benzenedream! That'll learn me to post without previewing.
posted by battlebison at 12:08 PM on December 15, 2009


New news, I mean.
posted by smackfu at 12:09 PM on December 15, 2009


Pollomacho, here's what the study says in part, about that: Foods and beverages in the US are typically sweetened with sucrose (50% glucose and 50% fructose) or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is usually 45%–58% glucose and 42%–55% fructose, rather than pure glucose or fructose. We have reported in a short-term study that the 23-hour postprandial TG profiles in male subjects consuming 25% energy as HFCS (55% fructose) or sucrose were elevated to a degree similar to that observed when pure fructose–sweetened beverages were consumed (19). Therefore, it is uncertain whether the adverse effects of sucrose and HFCS consumption are “diluted” by their lower fructose content relative to pure fructose.

So: normal sugar is nearly the same chemically as HCFS, but HCFS apparently still induces the same adverse effects as 100%-fructose.

Also, I thought 25% of daily energy from a sweetened beverage was a lot, but get a load of this:

The amount of sugar consumed by the subjects in this study, 25% of energy requirements, is considerably higher than 15.8%, the current estimate for the mean intake of added sugars by Americans (58). However, recent reports (59–63) suggest that the sugar intake from beverages alone approaches or exceeds 15% of energy in adolescents and adults up to 40 years of age. The large SDs in several of these reports suggest that at least 16% of the studied populations was consuming over 25% of daily energy requirements from sugar-sweetened beverages (59, 62, 63).

The average adult gets > 15% of their energy from sugary beverages!

Then, we have a study that looks at exactly that, which appears to show that fructose is handled differently and is stored as fat around major organs.

This study also shows that people already at risk for type II diabetes are even worse off, since HCFS elevated all the risk factors for diabetes more than sucrose did.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 12:14 PM on December 15, 2009


Giganto-Americans, we hardly knew ye.
posted by fire&wings at 12:15 PM on December 15, 2009


To me, HCFS and other artificial chemicals/preservatives are probably far more likely to cause autism than thermisol or vaccines.
posted by stormpooper at 12:17 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then, we have a study that looks at exactly that, which appears to show that fructose is handled differently and is stored as fat around major organs.

That's not the really bad news. The really bad news is that it impacts liver function in a way that tosses the metabolism for a loop in a way that directly impacts the way we store and burn fat. The problem isn't that HFCs are being turned into fat at a greater rate, it's that it injures the body in such a way as to where it can affect weight loss and weight gain. Follow up studies will be needed to make certain, but this could be a trigger that causes obesity - metabolism impacts appetite and energy levels, especially if it's in an off kilter "conserve energy/store fat" mode.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:17 PM on December 15, 2009


Hmmm guess there is scientific evidence on my theory
posted by stormpooper at 12:19 PM on December 15, 2009


I'm using a call for science.

"Sucrose, commonly called table sugar, is a disaccharide of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula C12H22O11...In mammals, sucrose is readily digested in the stomach into its component sugars, by acidic hydrolysis."

"The most widely used varieties of high-fructose corn syrup are: HFCS 55 (mostly used in soft drinks), approximately 55% fructose and 45% glucose...While the glucose and fructose, which are the two components of HFCS, are monosaccharides, sucrose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose linked together with a relatively weak glycosidic bond. A molecule of sucrose (with a chemical formula of C12H22O11) can be broken down into a molecule of glucose (C6H12O6) plus a molecule of fructose (also C6H12O6 — an isomer of glucose) in a weakly acidic environment. Sucrose is broken down during digestion into fructose and glucose through hydrolysis by the enzyme sucrase, by which the body regulates the rate of sucrose breakdown"

Can a chemist please explain to me how, after consumption, these two products are different other than in a marginal difference in relative amounts of glucose and fructose?

In other words, it seems like sucrose, which is naturally found in fruits, honey, etc and HFCS both break down into identical components in digestion, namely glucose and fructose. Is this right?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:20 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's so silly that it's under the same "Sugars" heading on food labels as natural fruit sugars and lactose and the like.

It's interesting that you called lactose "lactose" and not "milk sugars" but you called fructose "fruit sugars"

Look, fructose is fructose. it's the same chemical in HCFS as it is in an Apple. And Corn Syurp naturally contains Fructose and Glucose. HCFS is just called HCFS because the Fructose/Glucose ratio is up to 1:1.

Apples, grapes, etc all have Fructose and glucose in about the same amount, although ratios differ slightly (some have more fructose then glucose, even)

Yeah, here's another article on it from last April, which points out that glucose != sucrose.

That's not what the article said at all. It said there was a difference between glucose and fructose. Not between glucose and sucrose.

Sucrose breaks down to 50% glucose and 50% fructose, just like HCFS.

Saying that glucose is better then fructose does not mean HCFS is worse for you then Sucrose. They both have the same ratio of those two sugars.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2009


To me, HCFS and other artificial chemicals/preservatives are probably far more likely to cause autism than thermisol or vaccines.

Crazy.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Honey is 55% fructose, just like HFCS.
Chemically, they're nearly identical.
posted by rocket88 at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2009


Can a chemist please explain to me how, after consumption, these two products are different other than in a marginal difference in relative amounts of glucose and fructose?

In other words, it seems like sucrose, which is naturally found in fruits, honey, etc and HFCS both break down into identical components in digestion, namely glucose and fructose. Is this right?


My impression from the article is that because it's already broken down, it goes directly to the liver, which is what causes the problem.
posted by empath at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2009


Ugh. I meant "I'm issuing a call for science."

Anyway, the mercury thing scares the shit out of me. But besides that, if there is going to be a single culprit to blame for the obesity problem in America, I'm going to suggest that it's the massive consumption of food that comes in mylar or plastic bags, i.e. anything that is crispy, salty, and brown. Potato chips, pretzels, corn chips, etc. That seems to be the category of food item that Americans consume way the hell more of than anyone else.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2009


What mercury thing?
posted by empath at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2009


To me, HCFS and other artificial chemicals/preservatives are probably far more likely to cause autism than thermisol or vaccines.

Crazy.
posted by delmoi at 3:22 PM on December 15


I think stormpooper's comments is based on the fact that allegations that vaccines cause autism are based on the mercury that is present in vaccines. (In other words, it is a fact that vaccines have mercury, it is a fact that any amount of mercury is toxic, and it is a fact that people allege that vaccines cause autism because of this. It is not a fact, to my knowledge, that mercury causes autism.)

So if mercury were present in HFCS-foods as a contaminant, then the mercury exposure for kids would skyrocket.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:32 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the world eats.
posted by everichon at 12:33 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the "mercury thing" I mentioned, picked up from stormpoopers comment.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:34 PM on December 15, 2009


Wikipedia is still your friend, delmoi:
Cane sugar and beet sugar are both relatively pure sucrose. While the glucose and fructose, which are the two components of HFCS, are monosaccharides, sucrose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose linked together with a relatively weak glycosidic bond. A molecule of sucrose (with a chemical formula of C12H22O11) can be broken down into a molecule of glucose (C6H12O6) plus a molecule of fructose (also C6H12O6 — an isomer of glucose) in a weakly acidic environment. Sucrose is broken down during digestion into fructose and glucose through hydrolysis by the enzyme sucrase, by which the body regulates the rate of sucrose breakdown. Without this regulation mechanism, the body has less control over the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
[emphasis mine]

Ergo, sucrose is not chemically identical to glucose/fructose, just because it eventually turns into it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:34 PM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


That's not what the article said at all. It said there was a difference between glucose and fructose.

Right, what I meant was that the article pointed out how it this shows the benefit of glucose, but if our choices are between sucrose and HFCS, that doesn't make much difference.
posted by smackfu at 12:35 PM on December 15, 2009


My impression from the article is that because it's already broken down, it goes directly to the liver, which is what causes the problem.

The article is pretty hyperbolic, these people seem obsessed with HCFS for whatever reason. The problem with these studies is that they are basically just checking to see if Fructose, or Fructose glucose is bad. They are not checking to see if HCFS is worse then Sucrose.

Sucrose gets broken down immediately in the stomach. And Apples and other fruits contain Fructose, the same way things sweetened with HCFS are. There's no reason to think HCFS is worse then sucrose, and there is no reason to think that the Fructose in HCFS is worse for you then the Fructose in natural fruits. Or honey (which, like rocket88 pointed out, is almost chemically identical to HCFS, which is actually sometimes called "Artificial Honey")

Everyone knows Sugar is bad for you. But then HCFSphobes point out any new study that reconfirms that and then say "HCFS is bad for you" while ignoring the fact that sucrose is just as bad.

We should all eat less sugar, but this obsession with HCFS is just over the top and actually rather unhelpful for people who want to eat more healthy.

As far as the mercury thing goes, the question is how much is in there. I'm sure there are FDA regulations that limit the amount that can be in food products, and lots of things have levels that are lower then that. And of course no testing was done on refined cane sugar, which could just as easily have some.
posted by delmoi at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Everyone knows Sugar is bad for you. But then HCFSphobes point out any new study that reconfirms that and then say "HCFS is bad for you" while ignoring the fact that sucrose is just as bad.

We should all eat less sugar, but this obsession with HCFS is just over the top and actually rather unhelpful for people who want to eat more healthy.


I think the reason why some people appear to worry more about HFCS is (and this has been discussed on the blue before) because the food industry seems to be tossing the stuff into practically everything, and also using a variety of names for it.

You expect there will be sucrose in a doughnut. You don't expect HFCS in a bag of supposedly unseasoned, plain walnuts.
posted by Zinger at 12:46 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Eat food, mostly heavily refined, not too little."
posted by everichon at 12:52 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Americans eat nearly four times the amount of sugar we should . . . and teens eat nearly six times the recommended max amount.
posted by bearwife at 12:53 PM on December 15, 2009


As I read the abstract, they started with obese people and found no difference in weight gain between the different sugars. So, we can stop right there with the assumption that HFCS is magically making people fatter according to this study. What the study suggests is that other alterations may occur - including cholesterol increased for one (potential heart disease) and insulin levels (diabetes risk). These results seem to be based on a very small group of test subjects, but open the door to further study.

This is my summation, but the article is obviously not intended for mass consumption by the public - but that's exactly what is now happening with the article. I am someone with a science degree, but even for me it is dense to follow as I'm not in this particular field and not as familiar with the terminology as the intended, narrow, audience. If you can't translate the article yourself, about all you can do is search out summaries like this, which are far more accurate and less biased than the FPP.

I'm very disappointed that journals continue to take articles in this form without any attempts to decipher the article for the public or for the general press. Why not have an alternative plain-English version of the article or a helpful press release? It is not that hard to publish, at least on the web if not in the journal.

Obviously such articles get attention - the whole point of the study and the publication is to wade into a controversy. This uber-technical writing style, without anything further from the authors and for the public, leads to false headlines and the mass consumption of biased summaries that are not likely to be accurate. No wonder the public is confused about these subjects and have nearly given up on issues such as climate change. It's just impossible for the average consumer to know what to make out of these publications.
posted by Muddler at 12:54 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Without this regulation mechanism, the body has less control over the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream.

Ergo, sucrose is not chemically identical to glucose/fructose, just because it eventually turns into it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:34 PM on December 15


I saw that same section. I never though that sucrose is chemically identical to HFCS. Sucrose is a different molecule than either glucose or fructose, and requires a chemical process to break it apart. HFCS is a mixture of G and F so no chemical process is requried to separate them.

I read this section to mean that sucrase control the rate at which sucrose is borken down, so does that mean that sucrose is not broken down into G and F all at once, but rather slowly so as to give the other metabolic process time to react to new G and F in the bloodstream? And therefore simply pouring G and F in together means that the F all hits the bloodstream at once?

I can see how this, if true (I actually don't know what the fuck I'm talking about here so it could be totally wrong) would then impact the insulin release rate. But insulin is released based on the presence of glucose, not fructose. And then high insulin spikes and swings can lead to triglyceride problems, diabetes etc., right?

This is all very confusing. All I know is that since I cut bread, sugar, and potatoes from my diet, no matter what else I eat or how much, I no longer get food coma.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:54 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


.There's no reason to think HCFS is worse then sucrose

This study says that it is. And honey might be as well, i assume.
posted by empath at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2009


because the food industry seems to be tossing the stuff into practically everything, and also using a variety of names for it.

Or vegetables, like the canned peas I saw the other day. I wanted sweet peas, not sweetened peas.

I think the phobia, if it's there, does really stem from the stuff being everywhere and very hard to avoid if you eat any food off the shelf whatsoever. Or out of the vending machine, or the fast food place, or at a local family restaurant that buys prepared sauces or frozen/canned ingredients, which is pretty much all of them. Or Halloween candy, or store-bought birthday cakes.

Truly avoiding it is not an easy choice, unless you have the time, money and skill to shop/cook so as to avoid it.
posted by emjaybee at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad for the corn syrup hysteria, it distracts the scientists from trying to ruin Aspartame for me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2009


Am I reading this right? Only 16 test subjects and no control group?

Great study guys. Next they will tell us that this rock keeps tigers away.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


@benzenedream: It's important to note, however, that ordinary sugar is NOT fructose and glucose as is found in HFCS. It is sucrose, which your body can break down into fructose and glucose.

I'm not trying to derail you; over-consumption of sugars is a huge deal and one of the biggest parts of Western-Diet Disease.

The important thing to know here is this: your brain actually NEEDS glucose. Every single cell in your body can metabolize glucose. Only the liver can metabolize fructose, which it then breaks down into glucose and some other junk. That "other junk" causes the exact same liver problems that drinking causes. Yes, fructose gives you the same health issues that being a boozehound does, but without actually making you drunk. What a rip off.
posted by phrakture at 1:03 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Actually, on reconsideration I think these are the most important sentences in the article: We have reported in a short-term study that the 23-hour postprandial TG profiles in male subjects consuming 25% energy as HFCS (55% fructose) or sucrose were elevated to a degree similar to that observed when pure fructose–sweetened beverages were consumed. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the adverse effects of sucrose and HFCS consumption are “diluted” by their lower fructose content relative to pure fructose. Additional studies are needed to compare the long-term effects of consuming HFCS and/or sucrose with 100% fructose.

In other words: HCFS, sucrose and 100% fructose are all equally bad, at least in the short term.

In the long term, this study compared 100% fructose to 100% glucose sweetener – not HCFS to sucrose or even HCFS and sucrose to pure fructose, i.e. a long-term version of the earlier, 24-hour study.

But look at the articles, they're horrible.:

High-fructose corn syrup, or glucose-fructose syrup, is listed as an ingredient in many food and drink products in Britain, although it is virtually impossible for consumers to know the quantity and ratio of fructose used. Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, and a US government adviser on health policy, said: “Historically, we never consumed much sugar. We’re not built to process it.""

This Popkin is talking about "sugar" - did he mean HCFS or sucrose? Probably he meant sucrose, so why put it in the same paragraph as HCFS? HCFS BOOGA-BOOGA, that's why.

And from Grist:
Well, that extra bit of fructose in HFCS may be all the difference you need over a lifetime of consumption to create serious health problems . . . I have no doubt that now that scientists know where to look, HFCS is in for some serious science-based trouble.

What's that first sentence based on? It's pure supposition; and the last sentence proves it - this guy doesn't need a study, he already knows HCFS is teh devil, deep in his gut (pun not intended).
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is all very confusing. All I know is that since I cut bread, sugar, and potatoes from my diet, no matter what else I eat or how much, I no longer get food coma.

posted by Pastabagel at 12:54 PM on December 15

posted by Zinger at 1:09 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dang it, hit post by accident. Was pointing out the irony of that comment by Pastabagel
posted by Zinger at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2009


I think the reason why some people appear to worry more about HFCS is (and this has been discussed on the blue before) because the food industry seems to be tossing the stuff into practically everything, and also using a variety of names for it.

Every nutrition information label will list the total amount of sugar, in grams. That's what you need to worry about, not what type of sugar or the number of different items that contain sugar. But the grams of sugar listed on the nutrition information.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honey is 55% fructose, just like HFCS.
Chemically, they're nearly identical.


rocket88, honey does have the same ratio of fructose to sucrose as HFCS (generally) but they are no where close to identical (here let me wiki that for you)

Besides, you try drinking over 15% of your calories in honey every single day. How do you think you'd feel? Pretty shitty I'd imagine, the biggest problem with HFCS is not its stereochemistry but its purity and cheapness and how that fucks with how we determine what tastes good, when we are full, and when we are hungry.

As everything becomes sweetened people, and especially children, adapt and become able to tolerate more and more sweetness while unsweetened foods taste more and more dull. You don't really need a biochemist to tell you this, just pack a soda to work ever day for a month and then stop. It won't hurt you much and you'll gain an appreciation for why so many people going to appointments to arrange for gastric surgery take massive jugs of soda with them

Both sucrose and HFCS are really bad for us in the kind of quantities in which we consume them, that really is a no-brainer.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


***Mr. Mackey voice***

"Fructose is bad, mmmkay."
posted by Tube at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was only saying that it wouldn't be crazy to wonder if a bunch of chemical preservatives in food--and think about if you eat a lot of preservative food--on top of pesticides, questionable water quality, etc. would increase the chance of autism vs. vaccines alone and the thermisol debate.

If autism is on the rise and it can be assumed so are the types and amounts of preservatives, they why didn't we hear of autism on the rise when we were kids in the 70s/early 80s when we were jabbed with thermisol-laced vaccines (and other preservatives)?

Just things to wonder if there could be a link with the preservatives.
posted by stormpooper at 1:25 PM on December 15, 2009


but they are no where close to identical (here let me wiki that for you)
With respect to carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose (about 38.5%) and glucose (about 31.0%),[2] making it similar to the synthetically produced inverted sugar syrup which is approximately 48% fructose, 47% glucose, and 5% sucrose. Honey's remaining carbohydrates include maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates.[2] Honey contains trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals.[23] As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey is mostly sugars and is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals.[24]
That doesn't sound like much of a difference.
posted by delmoi at 1:28 PM on December 15, 2009


Nelson, great shout out to Good Calories, Bad Calories.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 1:33 PM on December 15, 2009


So honey is basically about 70% HCFS, plus some other stuff. Action plan: don't get 20% of your energy intake from honey, unless you're a bear.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 1:34 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


That doesn't sound like much of a difference.

But how much do you think you could drink before you start getting uncomfortable?

Similarly, a bowl of oatmeal would be truly disgusting to just about anyone in the morning if you added 50% sugar by dry mass to it, but you can munch away at Froot Loops. [statement may or may not be applicable to bears]
posted by Blasdelb at 1:46 PM on December 15, 2009


Besides, you try drinking over 15% of your calories in honey every single day. How do you think you'd feel? Pretty shitty I'd imagine,

I don't know, for a 2500 cal/day diet, that's about 1/4 cup of honey. Spread out over an entire day, that's not an unheard of amount.
posted by electroboy at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2009


It's still not the chemistry of HFCS vs. table sugar, but rather the cheapness of the sweetner that is the problem. When I was a kid (get off my lawn!!!), adults generally looked at sugary foods as something to strictly limit in children. And they were relatively expensive. With the introduction of HFCS as a cheap commodity, it was put into everything intended for consumption by children. It's everywhere.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:02 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


about 1/4 cup of honey. Spread out over an entire day, that's not an unheard of amount.

It is unheard of every day. Honey, remember, even after the discovery of beekeeping, is a relatively rare and expensive foodstuff -- in fact, just compare the price even now with the price of sugar. A quarter cup of honey is a special occasion amount in a healthy diet, not for every day.

The World Health Organisation, by the way, recommends that no more than 10% of your daily energy intake be from refined sugars. In the US, the authorities bumped that up to 25% after heavy lobbying from the usual suspects.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


electroboy, maybe we used different estimates, here is my math

at 64 calories / tablespoon I got

2500 calories / 64 US tablespoons = 39.0625 US tablespoons = 2.44140625 US cups x 15% = 0.366210938 US cups = 86.6412 ml

But then if you leave out the complex sugars (though admittedly the analogy breaks down a bit) that is 123.773143 milliliters

124 mL = a lot of honey to eat every day.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2009


Another reason to be concerned about HFCS: it was introduced in 1980, exactly when the obesity epidemic hit the U.S. I understand, there could be other variables. But it's a heck of a coincidence and certainly suggestive. What other hypothesis do you have to explain that? I suppose videogames became popular about that same time.
posted by msalt at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


First off, it HFCS not HCFS.

Second:

Honey is 55% fructose, just like HFCS.
Chemically, they're nearly identical.


Thanks. And once Honey is in 90% of prepared foods we'll have a thread about it and you can repeat this canard as then maybe it'll be relevant.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


People might also want to check out this attempt by a Popular Science writer to analyze every man-made chemical in her body: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-10/personal-chemisty.
posted by bizwiz2 at 2:40 PM on December 15, 2009


No shit.
posted by autodidact at 2:41 PM on December 15, 2009


Honey, remember, even after the discovery of beekeeping, is a relatively rare and expensive foodstuff

It's not at all rare, and while it's expensive as compared to sugar, it's not even especially expensive. I certainly agree that while you wouldn't want to consume that much of any sugar, natural or not, lets not just make up reasons not to do it.

124 mL = a lot of honey to eat every day.

Heh, not in this context.
posted by electroboy at 2:43 PM on December 15, 2009


First off, it HFCS not HCFS.

First off, it it's not it.

also, hamburger
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 2:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Soooo much bad science reporting! RUN AWAY!
posted by sararah at 2:46 PM on December 15, 2009


The problem with cheap HFCS is that it's so ubiquitous. I ordered some coleslaw the other day at a restaurant, thinking I'd be safe with a relatively nutritious (if fatty) vegetable. The fucking coleslaw was sweet. Sugared. The bread you buy in grocery stores is sweet, too. Sugar is put in everything as a flavouring agent to mask the fact that the underlying food has no real flavour of its own. It's hideous.

The specific science of the article we're discussing here is that fructose is particularly bad for you and that HFCS has more fructose than most sugars. The HFCS part is interesting, but the impact of fructose on the liver is really interesting.
posted by Nelson at 2:47 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


What other hypothesis do you have to explain that? I suppose videogames became popular about that same time.

Mr. and Ms. Pac Man settled down at the end of 1981, started to let themselves go from too many power pellets.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:51 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


*has heaping spoonful of healthy, real sugar*
posted by Cranberry at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2009


Another reason to be concerned about HFCS: it was introduced in 1980, exactly when the obesity epidemic hit the U.S. I understand, there could be other variables. But it's a heck of a coincidence and certainly suggestive. What other hypothesis do you have to explain that? I suppose videogames became popular about that same time.

I think the answer is clear: MMR vaccinations cause obesity. It's from the antifreeze.

What a beautiful study. I'm especially intrigued that the glucovores didn't end up modifying their regular diet at all. I would be interested to see dietary satisfaction measured as well. Do you think the fructovores had more fun?

(And really, is this the best evidence against HFCS? I hear people railing against the stuff left and right, yet the most we can say is that a diet heavily laden with fructose leads to worse proximate outcomes than a diet heavily laden with glucose?)
posted by nathan v at 2:53 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another reason to be concerned about HFCS: it was introduced in 1980, exactly when the obesity epidemic hit the U.S. I understand, there could be other variables. But it's a heck of a coincidence and certainly suggestive. What other hypothesis do you have to explain that? I suppose videogames became popular about that same time.

Correlation is not causation.

Nature selected for individuals that like the taste "sweet" because in the calorie-poor environment where our ancestors won the evolutionary race, "sweet" = "calories" = "best cost/benefit comparison to energy expended/energy gained food collection." Because we are all the descendants of those individuals, we by and large prefer "sweet" to "not sweet" as a proximate goal, and calorie-dense to calorie-poor as an unconscious, ultimate goal.

Based on those assumptions, any given individual is likely to select the "sweet" food over the "not sweet" food when not constrained by external variables like cost.

HFCS is cheap. Farm subsidizes, technological innovation, and the economy of scale mean that creating sugar from corn is cheaper than extracting sugar from other sources.

Cheap sugar + General human preference for sugar = business goldmine.

Laden your food with cheap sugar, people will prefer it and you'll get rich. Boom. Massive transfer of wealth and massive obesity epidemic.

We will destroy ourselves. We evolved in a universe of external constraints, and now we are overcoming them to our detriment.
posted by jefficator at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's got electrolytes!
posted by subbes at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


electroboy,

While I'm still taking you seriously, How's this then?

sararah,
yeah... this reporting is awful, but the study is actually kind of neat.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:01 PM on December 15, 2009


Another reason to be concerned about HFCS: it was introduced in 1980, exactly when the obesity epidemic hit the U.S. I understand, there could be other variables. But it's a heck of a coincidence and certainly suggestive. What other hypothesis do you have to explain that? I suppose videogames became popular about that same time.

Although I hate to try to nutshell it (because oversimplification is one of the banes of science writing and advice to the public), the gist of Good Calories, Bad Calories is that the obesity epidemic appears to be the result of official advice to go for low fat (and by default), high carb diets. And that's not just sugar, but white flour, starch, and even grains/cereals in general. Further, contrary to received wisdom, there's little actual scientific support for the idea that fatty foods bad, whereas there's a whole lot that says the hyperinsulinism caused by excessive carb intake is exceedingly bad.
posted by Zinger at 3:05 PM on December 15, 2009


The specific science of the article we're discussing here is that fructose is particularly bad for you and that HFCS has more fructose than most sugars. The HFCS part is interesting, but the impact of fructose on the liver is really interesting.
posted by Nelson at 2:47 PM on December 15 [+] [!]


The Grist article said this too: but isn't the problem(s) with HFCS is that it is metabolized differently than sucrose, to our detriment; and that it's ubiquitous? Not so much that 50% vs 55% fructose makes a big difference. In other words the issue is the way the fructose is made available, not that there's a few grams more in your toast or whatever.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:05 PM on December 15, 2009


Is binge drinking worse for your liver than HFCS?

I mean we're going to need substitutes, right?
posted by no_moniker at 3:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


ALL THESE SWEETENERS ARE YOURS, EXCEPT ASPARTAME. ATTEMPT NO CONSUMPTION THERE.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]



Fructose 2,6-bisphosphate is an important up-regulator of glycolysis in the liver. Glycolysis in the liver occurs when the body is in "storage mode." It results in conversion of glucose to pyruvate, which is then dehydrogenated to make acetyl CoA, the fundamental building block of fatty acids. If consumption of HFCS promotes uptake of fructose by the liver, I can well imagine it causing increased fat storage. (Granted, fructose and fructose 1,6-bisphosphate are very different things.-- but each can be used to make the other, given the right enzymes.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:23 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


But how much do you think you could drink before you start getting
uncomfortable?


Huh? I don't know I've never tried. I don't recall ever feeling uncomfortable after eating small amounts of honey. I'm sure if I wanted to eat small amounts during the day that added up to 125ml, I would be fine.

The specific science of the article we're discussing here is that fructose is particularly bad for you and that HFCS has more fructose than most sugars.

Except, no, it has the same amount of fructose. 50%.
posted by delmoi at 3:24 PM on December 15, 2009


While I'm still taking you seriously, How's this then?

I'll see you and raise you. It fills barely .0125% of that container!

Seriously, I take no exception to what you're saying, it's certainly a lot of sugar, I was just amused at the demonstrative link.
posted by electroboy at 3:42 PM on December 15, 2009


palmcorder_yajna:

Fructose does not equal Fructose 2,6-bisphosphate
, there are very good reasons why fructose metabolism in the liver can potentially do fucked up things, but this explanation simplifies way past truth.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:45 PM on December 15, 2009


Not so much that 50% vs 55% fructose makes a big difference. In other words the issue is the way the fructose is made available, not that there's a few grams more in your toast or whatever.

That is what some people say. But existing evidence suggests that sucrose and HFCS do not lead to different outcomes in the kind of metrics you'd expect to see sugars affect.

Honey was not included in the two linked studies, but there is no reason to expect it to behave differently from HFCS. It's possible that HFCS is different from sucrose, but not in ways that we would expect-- but then, there isn't enough money in the world to investigate every possible outcome.

As happens so frequently, people say lots of things, often without evidence, and often in a way that makes misunderstandings likely. I was unable to find any evidence that the free fructose present in HFCS leads to any different outcomes than the fructose bound with glucose found in sucrose. HFCS is certainly ubiquitous in the United States, but not much more than sugar; 28.4kg vs 26.7kg in 2005.

I find it very uncommon for people to complain about sugars, or about fructose, in comparison to their complaints about HFCS. I think that presenting evidence like this study in terms of the danger of HFCS is misleading. Somehow, people have got it into their heads that anything with a centuries-old name is safer than anything that we need to routinely abbreviate. I feel that this is a dangerous attitude, and I'm disturbed by its popularity.
posted by nathan v at 3:47 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry electroboy, it is pretty funny, but *sniff, sniff* dinner time for me... and I think I'll drink beer instead
posted by Blasdelb at 3:47 PM on December 15, 2009


Thanks, nathan v. That's the kind of studies I was looking for.

They make much more sense than studying the effects of pure fructose since it's rarely used as a sweetener - but I guess studying fructose and using it to talk about HFCS gets you more attention.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:56 PM on December 15, 2009


HFCS is not "the same" as anything but HFCS. Puny MeFi humans, please stop pretending to have discovered technical equivalence between obscure aspects of different sugars (or their digestion).

To understand ALL the science, see the (repeatedly mentioned) video by Robert H. Lustig. Once you've watched that entire ninety minutes, feel free to come back and apologize for not paying proper attention in science class.
posted by unblinking at 3:58 PM on December 15, 2009


Am I reading this right? Only 16 test subjects and no control group?

You may want to read the paper.

The glucose group is the control group, since the null hypothesis for this study is that the two sugars have the same metabolic effects. (If you're testing which of two fuels burns cleaner, you don't throw water in as a "control group.")

They used an appropriate test for a small sample size (Student's t), and an appropriate measure of statistical significance (P = 0.05).

In other words, there is at most a 5% chance of anything they refer to in the paper as "significant" being due to random error.

Many of their findings are much more significant. For the increased postprandial de novo lipogenesis (DNL) seen in the fructose group, there's a 2% chance of it being due to random error. For the increased triglycerides seen in the fructose group, there's a 0.4% chance of it being due to random error.
posted by Coda at 4:14 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh my fucking goodness. I can just feel the whole world geting dumber every minute. Between this and the stuff about coffee preventing diabetes...from the quoted Times article:

'Even some fruit drinks that sound healthy contain fructose.'
posted by chrisgregory at 5:10 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


HFCS is not "the same" as anything but HFCS. Puny MeFi humans, please stop pretending to have discovered technical equivalence between obscure aspects of different sugars (or their digestion).

To understand ALL the science, see the (repeatedly mentioned) video by Robert H. Lustig . Once you've watched that entire ninety minutes, feel free to come back and apologize for not paying proper attention in science class.
posted by unblinking at 3:58 PM on December 15 [+] [!]


Sorry, science doesn't work that way - we aren't going to go watch an hour and a half video based on your appeal to authority, just so we can respond to an otherwise content-free comment. Link to a study that shows HFCS is worse for your health than glucose, as in: it produces worse health outcomes at similar levels of consumption. Otherwise you're just trolling.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:12 PM on December 15, 2009


I stopped buying products containing HFCS years ago; just flat-out refuse to consume them.

Instead I use Stevia as a sweetener: no sugars, no calories, and not nasty like Aspartame.
posted by bwg at 5:46 PM on December 15, 2009


How is a raven like high fructose corn syrup?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:52 PM on December 15, 2009


>HFCS is not the same as anything else...

Got it. So honey and HFCS are polar opposites, while table sugar sits on the sidelines. If I balance my honey and HFCS intake, they'll duke it out on my insides and ultimately work out to zero calories. Meanwhile, table sugar needs to fight spiciness and saltiness, meaning I need to increase my chip and salsa intake to make up for my morning sugared espresso.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:54 PM on December 15, 2009


Anyway, I find this all kind of moot.

All over the Western world, people are getting fatter and fatter, with or without HFCS, which is more or less a US phenomenon. We don't have HFCS as a major ingredient in processed food here in New Zealand, but we do have ubiquitous cheapish fast food, very cheap starch compared to vegetables, sugary drinks sold as daily beverages, sugar-laden food marketed at kids, super-sizing, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Oh, and lots and lots of fat kids. The sort who would have been freaks when I was a little boy in the 70s.

It is very interesting to know how different kinds of sugars are metabolised, but it isn't necessary to nail down the details to understand why we have increasing obesity.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:01 PM on December 15, 2009


Instead I use Stevia as a sweetener: no sugars, no calories, and not nasty like Aspartame.

Nope, it's nasty in its own unique way.
posted by explosion at 8:38 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


To understand ALL the science, see the (repeatedly mentioned) video by Robert H. Lustig . Once you've watched that entire ninety minutes, feel free to come back and apologize for not paying proper attention in science class.

Damn, that was long.

So in case anyone's curious, here's Dr. Lustig's thesis: Fructose, particularly in the form of beverages, is heavily responsible for problems with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in industrialized nations. This is because fructose metabolism turns into fat more easily than glucose does, and does not cause satiety.

Obviously, over 90 minutes, a viewer can amass quite a collection of nitpicks.

Most of the evidence for his thesis comes in the form of his collected knowledge regarding metabolic pathways in the liver. In feel very wary of this kind of evidence, because we know so little about physiology that it is very easy to come to contradictory hypotheses. Trying to tie together different snippets is a great way to generate hypotheses, but I don't think it's responsible to present those ideas as the truth, especially as a doctor in a educational presentation. It's necessary to look at outcomes. Now, if you want an example of that, part of what Dr. Lustig suggests is that, if he's reasoned everything out correctly, a high fructose diet should lead to hypertension, and he presents a study showing the same in adolescents; unfortunately, he doesn't tell me how to find that study (and honestly, after 90 minutes of him, on top of a day reading about HFCS, I would probably be too lazy to check it out in detail). Yet, the study referred to in this FPP does not find hypertensive changes in their fructose group (at least, not over their glucose group). Now, I'm not mentioning this to suggest that Dr. Lustig is completely incorrect, just to show how there are so many complicating factors that predicting gross outcomes on the basis of a few understood pathways is poor practice.

Dr. Lustig suggests that fructose is as dangerous a source of calories as ethanol, although I'm not really sure how serious he is about that. This is based on an examination of ethanol metabolism in the liver, and I don't think anyone seriously believes that ethanol only has activity in the liver and nervous system. While he suggests that our emphasis on a low-fat diet is, at least, mistaken, he doesn't really do any comparison of fructose to any nutrients except for glucose and ethanol. (And probably for the best: trying to talk about the safety of protein or fat metabolism would be difficult to do solely on the basis of metabolic pathways. They'd both come out looking pretty bad.)

I would be interested, some day in the future, in looking for outcomes-based research on fructose and satiety.

So, no, I wouldn't say this video is really necessary viewing on the subject.
posted by nathan v at 8:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The danger that HFCS presents is not chemical, it's economic. It's so cheap, that now sugar is added to so many more things. Lustig points this out in his lecture - that HFCS isn't worse for you than sucrose, but there is more of it because corn is cheaper than sugar cane.

This issue is a lot like GM foods, where people seem to freak out about the DNA, but don't realize that the main problem is the economics (GM crops require more fertilizer and water, new seeds to be bought every year, etc).
posted by jb at 9:02 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not at all rare, and while it's expensive as compared to sugar, it's not even especially expensive.

Maybe not in the 'states where the 'honey' you buy at supermarkets are filler-ed up with HFCS and maybe only 50 or 30% actual honey.

Much like milk and cheese made from overly-hormone-ed up 'dairy.' Hormonally force a cow to pump out more milk? Yeah - it's going to be more watery and less nutritious. Mechanized milking machines causes wounds and sores and thus puss? Bonus!

Real honey (and dairy) costs more to produce, and much more to purchase.

I don't understand the massive reaction against that the fact the ubiquity of HFCS in foodstuffs is a negative populational health modifier. Does anyone *like* HFCS added foodstuff over non-added ("natrural," "unprocessed") or cane-sugar-ed foodstuffs?

To speak without "code" my question is: industry influenced astroturfers or are all the "HFCS research is garbage!" folk just fat and lazy and the Starbucks phenomenon (stuff is good because you're used to it rather than that something is actually good)?
posted by porpoise at 9:09 PM on December 15, 2009


How is a raven like high fructose corn syrup?

Is the answer Ghostbusters 2?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:10 PM on December 15, 2009


In other words, there is at most a 5% chance of anything they refer to in the paper as "significant" being due to random error.

Putting on my arrant pedantry hat here, this is a misstatement of what the type I error rate means. It's actual meaning is that IF the null hypothesis is true, one has only a 5% chance of mistakenly declaring it is not true (i.e., calling the result "significant"). Although this may seem equivalent to your statement, yours does not condition on the null hypothesis. The chances of something being "significant" depends upon the true but unknown state of nature. The whole purpose of this approach to hypothesis testing is that it doesn't require attaching prior probabilities to potential states of nature, and depends only on noting that a particular result is relatively unlikely under the null hypothesis (and more likely under the alternatives). If I know that the observed difference or a more extreme value would only appear 5% (or less) of the time under the null hypothesis, but more often under the alternative, I am going to reject the null in favor of the alternative. Because this seems to some a rather backassward way of approaching the problem, so advocate Bayesian statistical approaches, which allow one to make the kind of "posterior-probability" statement you make, but require that some "prior" probabilities be attached to potential states of nature prior to looking at the data. As you can imagine, this could be a difficult and even contentious process. Thus you get the dichotomy between classical frequentist methods (p-values and the like) and Bayesian methods (prior and posterior probabilities and the like).

Okay, I'm done with my pedantic derail. Please carry on.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:12 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I sweeten everything with Miracle Fruit, by altering taste receptors to experience bitterness as sweetness, and then snack on lemons. (actually, that would be kind of cool)

Nope, it's [stevia] nasty in its own unique way.

Like what? I'm actually curious.

---

The danger that HFCS presents is not chemical, it's economic. It's so cheap, that now sugar is added to so many more things. Lustig points this out in his lecture - that HFCS isn't worse for you than sucrose, but there is more of it because corn is cheaper than sugar cane.

Cane sugar is not that expensive. According to this page brown sugar costs just 5¢ for every 100 calories. A 2000 calorie diet in brown (sugar) would cost you just $1/day. Adding it to everything would probably just add an extra 10/20¢. Maybe all those pennies add up for big corporations, but switching to sucrose wouldn't cost that much more.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 PM on December 15, 2009


What delmoi just said. HFCS deserves to be demonised as the product of hugely wasteful, corrupt policy decisions that punish other countries' agriculture, and soak the US taxpayer. However, the sugar industry is almost as bad. And when cane sugar is at its normal price (based on forced labour in some cases, but that's another story), guess what? It's still a cheap ingredient that pops up everywhere, albeit not quite in the same quantity as the US.

Getting wound up about HFCS is an enormous distraction from the hard work of reforming food and agriculture and tax and public health policy in the US and many other countries. It's a symptom, not a cause.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:24 PM on December 15, 2009


industry influenced astroturfers or are all the "HFCS research is garbage!" folk just fat and lazy and the Starbucks phenomenon (stuff is good because you're used to it rather than that something is actually good)?

Speaking only for myself, my concern is that those who focus on HFCS in favor of cane sugar or honey are suggesting either explicitly or implicitly that there are some dangerous ingredients in HFCS that are radically different in volume or ratio in the latter two substances; however, this is not true. Most of the problems described as being attributable to HFCS can also be caused by cane sugar and by honey. The problem is eating too damn much sugar. As someone else pointed out, some of these problems can also arise from eating refined flour. However, the article in the FPP specifically focuses on the problems of fructose, which one can get in about the same quantity from HFCS, cane sugar and honey. Proponents of any one of these may attempt to muddy the water surrounding this rough equivalence. The authors of the study make the somewhat disingenuous statement that the difference between the 55% fructose in HFCS and the 50% in cane sugar MAY be enough to push you over the edge in a lifetime of use, this assertion posits a rather unlikely step-function between healthy and not healthy. But it's like saying that drinking 100 proof vodka is less likely to lead to problems than drinking 110 proof vodka. It's true, but just drinking a lot less of either is a more effective way of limiting the potential damage.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:24 PM on December 15, 2009


The problem is eating too damn much sugar

Yes, but when they put it in things like tomato soup, that's annoying.

It's fine to say "people should eat less sugar" but not everyone has the time or skills to cook all their own food from scratch, or to buy less-full-of-sugar "natural" versions. Someone drinking a soda is choosing to have sugar; someone eating a can of tomato soup is not necessarily making that decision.

The food industry should put less sugar in food. Also less salt. But they don't listen to me (and nor should they, because I make almost all of my food from scratch).
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's actually a very deep issue. Why are people so time poor? Why don't they know how to cook, or have the leisure to do so? Who benefits from the status quo? It's enough to make you a Marxist when you keep digging.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:08 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm so tired of this HFCS crap so I'm just going to say it.

Stop drinking so many goddamn soft drinks. In fact, don't drink any. Period. No Coke. No Pepsi. No Mountain Dew. No 7-up. No Sprite. No Mr. fucking Pibb. No root beer, Doctor Pepper, Orange Soda or any of this poisonous garbage.

Please. Please, in the name of all that is good in the world, just stop drinking this crap and we can move on to other things. Sure, there will still be sweeteners in other foods. But simply eliminating soft drinks will cut the average intake of sweeteners by such an extent that it won't be anything like the issue it is now. So put the damn Coke down, brush the cookie crumbs off your bloated, overextended belly, lick the orange Cheeto dust off your greasy fingers, and just STOP. No more garbage drinks.

The vast majority of what you drink should be water. Nothing else.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Someone drinking a soda is choosing to have sugar; someone eating a can of tomato soup is not necessarily making that decision.

Yeah, but worrying about the relatively small amount of sugar in the tomato soup when so many people are practically mainlining sugar via soft drink is making the perfect the enemy of the good. It's making this a lot more difficult than it needs to be. We just need to stop with the soft drinks and then in a couple years see if this is even an issue. I suspect it mostly won't be.

I hope the Pepsi goons aren't about to break down my door. 'Cause Coca-Cola, Inc and Pepsi-Co are the tobacco companies of the new century.
posted by Justinian at 10:13 PM on December 15, 2009


The vast majority of what you drink should be water. Nothing else.

Unless you're fixing yourself a good single malt.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:40 PM on December 15, 2009


worrying about the relatively small amount of sugar in the tomato soup when so many people are practically mainlining sugar via soft drink

I'm not talking about policing other people's behavior, because I am not other people's food police. I'm talking about me, personally, trying to buy a can of tomato soup that doesn't have any fucking sugar in it on the rare occasion when I buy a can of soup.

I haven't had a soft drink with sugar in it for at least 20 years--it's too sweet for me and makes me nauseated. Just doesn't appeal.

But I would like to be able to buy a can of tomato soup that doesn't have sugar in it. Or a boatload of salt. Without going to the fancy grocery store.

I imagine that there are other people who don't drink soda, or who rarely drink soda, who would also like to buy foods like soup that weren't loaded down with sugar.

Saying "Well, it doesn't matter that other foods are crammed with sugar because ZOMG SODA" is missing the point that people who drink soda know it has sugar in it. People who eat tomato soup probably aren't expecting it to have 24 grams of sugar in it (as a can of Campbell's does).
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:48 PM on December 15, 2009


And Justinian? You're not other people's food police, either. So stop policing other people's food choices. It's creepy Carry Nation shit to insist that other people not partake of foods or beverages they enjoy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:51 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


delmoi, you consistently take the strawman argument that HFCS is no different than fructose but the real argument against HFCS is that it is being used by industry to make foods that normally don't require added sugar more palatable and therefore more marketable. This increases the sugar intake to an unwary public. I'm sure if everyone regulated their intake of HFCS like the commercials advocate then there would be less of a problem with this chemical contributing to obesity but people do not. Americans on a whole eat like shit and those of us who eat responsibly are paying for the rest of the country's insulin medication through higher health insurance rates and uncomfortable airplane flights. It's a fact that too much fructose gets metabolized in the liver as fat. It's a fact that there is NO recommended daily intake of added sugar - none - your body does not require it at all - so why are we allowing industry to add a chemical to our food that is contributing to our nation's health crisis? Why is this issue any different than the trans fat issue?
posted by any major dude at 10:57 PM on December 15, 2009


Anybody seen the documentary King Corn? It's kind of relevant to this...
posted by borges at 10:58 PM on December 15, 2009


If autism is on the rise

It isn't.
posted by rodgerd at 11:14 PM on December 15, 2009


You're not other people's food police, either. So stop policing other people's food choices. It's creepy Carry Nation shit to insist that other people not partake of foods or beverages they enjoy.

Policing? Do I have the power to arrest people for being dumb enough to suck down a thousand calories a day in soft drinks? No, no I don't. In fact, I don't have the power to do anything except say that drinking a ton of soda is dumb. Which I will continue to do, thanks. I will also tell people that it is dumb to smoke cigarettes. I suppose that qualifies me as "inhaled drug police". And telling people that baking themselves at a sunny beach without sunscreen for 8 hours a day is also dumb. Oh god, now I am the sun police! THE SUN POLICE.

But feel free to stop policing other people's post choices. It's creepy to insist that other people not partake of posts they enjoy.
posted by Justinian at 11:15 PM on December 15, 2009


This is what I know: I moved to Europe and I don't have to munch on antacids anymore and I lost ten pounds.

HFCS is flat fucking evil. ( and I mean not just for your body, but the way it has wended into every single fucking food sold in America, is evil. The way it has carved out a niche for itself (corn subsidies) in the federal budget (monies to produce a food that is deleterious to the citizens' health (a citizenry that has minimal control over their ability to avoid it, no less)), is evil. Shit is capitalism at the expense of the populace... cannibalistic capitalism.)
posted by From Bklyn at 11:26 PM on December 15, 2009


That settles it, I'm laying in a huge supply of those white chalky likmaid sticks before dextrose and maltodextrin costs go through the roof.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:53 PM on December 15, 2009


Nope, it's nasty in its own unique way.

Care to elaborate, or is that just automatic gainsay?

Yes, some Stevia products carry an aftertaste (some say of licorice), but the better ones do not. If it sweetens without aftertaste, how can it be nasty?

It's still better than HFCS and Aspartame, Splenda or anything else.
posted by bwg at 11:55 PM on December 15, 2009


Bwg, tell me which Stevia products have no aftertaste, and I'll be all over it. I haven't found one that has a satisfying taste yet.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:18 AM on December 16, 2009


All I know is that since I cut bread, sugar, and potatoes from my diet, no matter what else I eat or how much, I no longer get food coma.

Sugars were the big one for me. The hardest to kick (as I consider myself something of an aficionado of fine soda, and scoff quite heavily at the notion that one couldn't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi) but it was hard to ignore the instant feedback. Clothes started fitting (well) again without really realizing it. And my poor teeth are much happier now. A huge problem with sugars (of any kind) in liquid form is that you're typically bathing your teeth in food for plaque to take hold to. Coffee with sugar was hard, but I've convinced myself that this is really the only way to drink it.

But the Mexican Coke, if it is in the house, I will drink until it is gone. That's probably the greatest reason why I should stay here in Maine.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:14 AM on December 16, 2009


BrotherCaine, I use Stevia Glycerite by Now Foods.

It's a liquid concentrate, so you only have to add a few drops at a time (you'll need to test it to get used to the sweetness levels). It doesn't have a bitter aftertaste.

It's not convenient to carry around, but for home use I find it's fine. Now Foods also makes a powdered packet form for when you're out.
posted by bwg at 3:16 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Care to elaborate, or is that just automatic gainsay?

Yes, some Stevia products carry an aftertaste (some say of licorice), but the better ones do not. If it sweetens without aftertaste, how can it be nasty?

It's still better than HFCS and Aspartame, Splenda or anything else.


Well, maybe stevia (what's with the capitalization, anyway?) products have gotten better since I last tried them, but that aftertaste was a certain sticking point. There's also the difference in taste onset that just makes stuff taste...weird.

Generally speaking, though, I've noticed that a lot of people claim things "taste like sugar," when in fact they absolutely do not, aside from being generically sweet. I'm of the opinion that Splenda should never have been legally allowed to advertise "Tastes Like Sugar because it Comes From Sugar," but simply because it doesn't taste like sugar.

Another problem is that recipes and formulas aren't altered to compensate for this difference. Why does Diet Coke taste pretty good? Because they actually made a soda whole-cloth to taste good, rather than taking the regular version, cutting the sugar, and adding the artificial sweetener, as Diet Pepsi, and other diet sodas do. Cut the sugar from your cupcake recipe and add stevia or Splenda, and it will not taste the same. Simple substitution just doesn't work the way people claim it does.
posted by explosion at 4:32 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


explosion, you're right about the taste problem, but it has gotten better.

Since there are so many ways to prepare stevia extracts, some companies do a better job than others, and it takes a bit of trial and error to find a brand you like. Add in that everyone's taste buds are different and what one person will like another will hate.

The stevia glycerite I use doesn't replace the taste of sugar, it sweetens in its own way that I prefer over sugar now that I'm accustomed to it. I figure it's a small price to pay for avoiding sugar and all the chemical pretenders.

You're also right about Splenda - that crap just doesn't work.
posted by bwg at 6:28 AM on December 16, 2009


It is almost impossible to avoid HFCS in any products now a days. Who knows what goes into anything anymore. For all we know the "healthy" veggie sub from subway could be loaded with the crap. Anymore I'm simply drinking water when I'm thirsty and tea/coffee when I need a jolt. As for foods, it seems the only way we can avoid HFCS is to make our own. Ugh!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:44 AM on December 16, 2009


Wine, motherfuckers. You can should even dip your panettone in it.
posted by everichon at 8:12 AM on December 16, 2009


Avoiding HFCS or other added sugars in food is quite simple -- stop buying prepared food at the store.

Sugar and salt are two of the oldest forms of preserving food known to man, and they still work today. Why does everything in a can have added HFCS? Because it helps keep the food from spoiling and doesn't affect the taste or your own biology as much as the chemical preservatives.

You want tomato soup without the huge amounts of added sugar? Go pick up a couple of good cookbooks (I recommend the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, either of these are great), and start cooking your own food. Stop relying on industrial food production to create what you eat. Take control of your own diet, starting by actually using your kitchen.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain to me, does the harm of fructose in these studies mean that fruit is actually bad for you?

Lots of talking past each other on sucrose vs. honey vs. HFCS, no one mentions fruit. I eat a lot of fruit. Can this be unhealthy, really?
posted by msalt at 11:37 AM on December 16, 2009


msalt,
Fruit is nice in that it triggers hormonal responses in your stomach to produce the proper enzymes to process the sugars (mono and di-saccarides). Sadly, no time to RTFA, but I'm wondering if there's any mention of how HFCS messes with your metabolism by not triggering the proper ghrellin (sp?) hormone response to tell you that you are full, so you just keep stuffing your face with "empty" calories. Part of the reason HFCS is "bad" is that since it doesn't trigger the proper hormone receptors to make you feel "full", thus you only consume what your body can process without having to resort to creating fat. Makes a lot more sense when you think about it that way. Also, you can consume far more HFCS than you can honey or sucrose because of this effect (meaning you can consume lots of HFCS and not feel "full" or get that queasy/sick feeling you do when you eat too much sugar. Things made with HFCS are never "too rich" or make you feel like you are spiking your glucose the way extremely rich desserts might, etc, etc.).

Eh, I've had to deal with this problem ever since being diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorbtion. This means I can't eat apples, even, because something damaged my intestinal tract to the point where I don't produce enough of the enzymes to absorb fructose into my blood stream (where it can be processed by the liver). Instead, it just goes down into my lower intestines and beyond. You know something funny? The normal intestinal bacteria in your lower intestines and bowels absolutely love Fructose. Any kind they can get, it's like a party to them. Of course, this means I get diarrhea and some other fun side-effects. You know one of the gasses produced by E. Coli when it's fed Fructose? H2. Guess what likes to be absorbed into your bloodstream through your lower intestines. Yep, H2. Makes me all light-headed and a little loopy. If I get too much I get manic and have nice blank spots in my memory. Yay, gas emulsification. The funny thing is I learned to recognize when I've accidentally eaten something I shouldn't. My hair follicles on the top of my head start to feel like my scalp is full of ice needles. Usually the next few hours can get a little rough, especially for those around me, as I turn into a very reactionary manic buffoon.

Anyway. That's my reason for not liking HFCS. It actually does make me sick. And since it's in pretty much everything you buy at the grocery store, it makes if very hard for me to find food I can eat unless I make it myself or get it from certain specialty stores (thank you, Fresh'n'Easy/Tesco). I have notices a trend with a lot of bread manufacturers switching to using sugar instead of HFCS. Hell, Thomas's English Muffins recently came out with new non-HFCS muffins, which makes breakfast so much better now.

Back about 2 years ago when there was this big push towards ethanol and all the corn growers were selling their stuffs for processing into ethanol and corn prices spiked, it made my very happy. It meant food producers would either have to raise prices as well, or switch to sugar (which was dirt cheap compared to HFCS because of the corn price spike). Sadly, this won't last.

Also, for those of you missing the fun part about HFCS, while it's components are similar to sucrose, the main factor that is missing is the chemical bond which requires sucrase to break it down into it's mono components. It's also fun to learn the process in which is is created. It's a 2 step process where the corn syrup is reacted with a synthetic enzyme to boost the fructose. I wonder what the waste product of this process is? I'm going to have to look that up.
posted by daq at 12:08 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering if there's any mention of how HFCS messes with your metabolism by not triggering the proper ghrellin (sp?) hormone response to tell you that you are full, so you just keep stuffing your face with "empty" calories. Part of the reason HFCS is "bad" is that since it doesn't trigger the proper hormone receptors to make you feel "full", thus you only consume what your body can process without having to resort to creating fat. Makes a lot more sense when you think about it that way.

It would make a lot of sense if it were actually true. But blood levels of glucose, insulin, and ghrelin are all equivalent in the 24 hours after consuming a lot of HFCS or sucrose.
posted by Justinian at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2009


Apropos fruit.

First, fruit contains fibre (and sometimes pectin) which makes you feel full and slows the absorbtion of the sugars in it. You will feel way more full from eating a bag of apples than drinking a large bottle of coke, and your blood sugar will not spike so hard. When diabetics feel faint, they drink coke, they don't go get a banana.

Second, fruit typically has other nutrients in it which justifies your eating it: vitaims, minerals, antioxidants, yadda yadda.

Third, fruit just doesn't have that much sugar compared to soft drink. Eg, 100g (about 4 oz) of apple contains 6g of fructose and 10g of sugars in total according to Wikipedia. By contrast, a small can of Coke contains about 40g of sugar in total -- I don't know how much of it is fructose, but at least half seems a reasonable guess. If you did feel like lowering the amount of fructose in your diet, the big win is in giving up soft drink and sweetened shit, not fruit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're also right about Splenda - that crap just doesn't work.

Well, I'll speak up for Splenda. Maybe I have defective taste buds or something, but I think it tastes just fine. I bring my own packets into work to add to my morning cup of coffee, because the Sweet 'N' Low and Equal my work provides taste like ass. I've only tried Stevia once (some Trader Joes variety, not Now Foods), but it was even worse. Taste is very much subjective.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2009


Justinian: It would make a lot of sense if it were actually true. But blood levels of glucose, insulin, and ghrelin are all equivalent in the 24 hours after consuming a lot of HFCS or sucrose.

I don't see any contradiction between this and what daq wrote. If the hormone makes you feel full, you WON'T consume a lot of fructose from the non-HFCS source, or at least not as much. Right? Also, fruit contains neither sucrose nor HFCS, right?

IAJS: the big win is in giving up soft drink and sweetened shit, not fruit.

I'm already there (except for chocolate as bitter and dark as I can find it, and Jarritos Toronja soda, which I find once a year max.) Just wouldn't like to find out that the pears and grapefruit I'm eating ruin my healthy diet.
posted by msalt at 2:55 PM on December 16, 2009


oops, missed the ghrelin there in Justinian's list, though "a lot of" seems kind of vague. My point on fruit still stands, though.
posted by msalt at 3:00 PM on December 16, 2009


Obviously the study itself doesn't say "a lot of", it has actual numbers. I just don't remember what they were offhand.
posted by Justinian at 4:02 PM on December 16, 2009


Justinian - fruit can contain plenty of sucrose. There's no evidence that fruit is deleterious to health, despite the fructose scare, possibly due to the lower speed of absorption of whole fruit (see glycemic index). Some experts (including lustig) are against all carb-rich drinks including fruit juice though, since fruit juice removes all the pectin and fiber, leaving just the carbs and a few vitamins.
posted by benzenedream at 4:09 PM on December 16, 2009


Speaking as a diabetic, there is a huge difference between how most whole fruit and fruit juice spike my sugars. I do tend to avoid grapes though, especially white. Dried fruit can be tricky, but at least there is enough fiber to slow the absorption a bit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:28 PM on December 16, 2009


You want tomato soup without the huge amounts of added sugar? Go pick up a couple of good cookbooks (I recommend the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, either of these are great), and start cooking your own food. Stop relying on industrial food production to create what you eat. Take control of your own diet, starting by actually using your kitchen.

And hey, why stop there? Why not grow your own heirloom tomatoes? Raise some cattle, keep a few chickens, put in an orchard, spend most of your summer doing down preserves and...

Look, I'm all for knowing how to cook, and eating properly. But it should not be the case that I, as a working mother, have to make a choice between staying up late baking my own bread at home, or doing my own stock, or whatever else... and feeding my kids stuff laced with crap. How's about we just insist the food industry stop putting crap in everything?
posted by Zinger at 5:00 PM on December 16, 2009


What Zinger said.

The food-industrial complex loves the individual responsibility angle to dealing with obesity and other public health issues to do with diet. No policy needs to change if it's all your fault and not theirs.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:47 PM on December 16, 2009


How's about we just insist the food industry stop putting crap in everything?

If you want it shelf stable, it's gonna have crap in it. That's just the way it is. Note, I agree that there is no excuse for putting crap in frozen food. The compromise is to get the prepackaged/ready made stuff with less crap or no crap, even if it means you can't have some things during the week (because there are no un-crappy versions of it outside of Whole Paycheck) and then make your own healthy stuff on the weekends to balance out the nutritional deficiencies of the week.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:40 PM on December 16, 2009


If you want it shelf stable, it's gonna have crap in it. That's just the way it is.

I'd argue that is the way it currently is, mainly because we haven't forced the food industry, either through legislation or buying patterns, to clean up their act and/or find better ways on these issues.

This kind of thing isn't new. It wasn't so long ago that bakers routinely put things like chalk in bread to whiten it. We, as consumers, just need to get angry enough about it to get it changed.
posted by Zinger at 7:28 PM on December 16, 2009


I'd argue that is the way it currently is, mainly because we haven't forced the food industry, either through legislation or buying patterns, to clean up their act and/or find better ways on these issues.

Um... okay, well, there are basic ways of preserving food. There's using sugar, or using salt, or using chemicals... Any other suggestions? Perhaps you advocate irradiation as a method of preservation? Are you in favor of creating legislation which will effectively ban all presently available technology for preserving food on a shelf without any alternative in hopes it will force innovation?

And if you're going to affect change through buying patterns, well, you'd best start a-cookin', because that's the only way you're going to develop enough market change.. by abandoning modern canned food in favor of cooking from scratch.
posted by hippybear at 9:15 PM on December 16, 2009


Um... okay, well, there are basic ways of preserving food. There's using sugar, or using salt, or using chemicals... Any other suggestions? Perhaps you advocate irradiation as a method of preservation? Are you in favor of creating legislation which will effectively ban all presently available technology for preserving food on a shelf without any alternative in hopes it will force innovation?

You're conflating issues here - I never said I was anti-preservative.

The discussion on this thread was about HFCS, which I, as well as many other people, regard as additional crud that has no business being in products like supposedly plain walnuts.

But as far as stuff like salt goes, given the extreme variance of levels in the very same product from market to market, I would guess that very little of the amount is determined by a need to preserve, and a great deal determined by the marketing department. And if that is being done without due consideration as to the effects on human health (by industry associations at the very least), then we have a problem.

And if you're going to affect change through buying patterns, well, you'd best start a-cookin', because that's the only way you're going to develop enough market change.. by abandoning modern canned food in favor of cooking from scratch.

I already do, as much as I can... however, there is only so much time and money. And if our food supply chain is failing us to the extent that we're all having to spend increasing amounts of time sourcing/growing/cooking from scratch, that pretty much blows away the point of living in a modern, post-industrial society: ie., time for specialization of skills. Not to mention the health care burden and associated costs put upon those who do not have the time, skills, or money to do it themselves.
posted by Zinger at 9:45 PM on December 16, 2009


I'm not sure it's conflating issues to point out that HFCS is added to a LOT of things as a preservative. Yes, perhaps it's being added in ridiculous amounts and that should be examined... and yes, I do agree that adding it to walnuts is a bit silly. But a lot of that boils down to reading ingredient labels in the supermarket.

It's interesting that twice now you've brought up growing food, which I haven't mentioned once. I cook excellent meals every night nearly completely from fresh ingredients purchased at local supermarkets. I don't think they're actually adding HFCS to items in the vegetable or meat counters yet, so I hope I've controlled our intake of that in this household. Most of the recipes I cook take under an hour from prep to table, unless I'm really ambitious. And I've reduced our food costs down immensely by eschewing prepared foods. I'm not sure whether I entirely buy your argument that being able to cook for oneself reduces one's ability to function in a modern society, but I do admit that I am not living your life and have no knowledge of the pressures or constraints you experience.

/apparent derail
posted by hippybear at 11:25 PM on December 16, 2009


It's interesting that twice now you've brought up growing food, which I haven't mentioned once.

Only because it's a case of ... where do you draw the line? I have seen HFCS in boneless, skinless chicken breasts... and if it's not that, it's things like excess sodium, or antibiotic overuse in livestock, or pesticides, or umpteen other things. Buying organic is a bit of a mug's game at the moment, as the definition of 'organic' is all over the map, to say nothing of the price differential.

Consider bread - where I live, I can't buy bread, even whole grain bread, that isn't either top heavy with added sugar (and I do mean excess here, not what's required for yeast to munch), or artisanal and $5 a loaf. Run a bread machine? Yep, but a loaf from it doesn't last much more than a day in my family, so if I choose to do it myself, I have to commit to doing it every day. Sure, that's only about 10 minutes to set up, but by the time you add that to all the other 10-20 minute things that you have to do for similar reasons, it really starts adding up. And it appears to me, at least, that the number of things I feel I have to do to provide good food to my family is increasing.

Anyhoo, derail done.
posted by Zinger at 12:08 AM on December 17, 2009


You're conflating issues here - I never said I was anti-preservative.

But that's the problem, preservatives may be edible, but they aren't exactly food. There are no alternatives to HFCS that aren't going to be unpalatable to someone. Either too much sugar, too much salt, irradiation (free radicals, whee), or other preservatives (personally I'm okay with most of the other preservatives, but I know the Bittmans & Pollans of the world freak out when they hear a name that sounds like a chemical), or a combo of some of all of the above. And they are put in there partly to satisfy consumers need for convenience, and partly to be more marketable to the American consumer's preference for too sweet and too salty. Pollan claims we should be more like the French, who I gather shop every freaking day, and don't put much in the way of preservatives in their food. Having a 2/3 size fridge I understand how much extra time it takes to shop more than once a week. My point here is that there's a lot of push pull in terms of consumer demands, and not enough agreement on what constitutes healthy food. As nutrition science drills down do the cellular level I suspect we are going to find out that the way different people process food covers a huge gamut, and that there is no one size fits all standard for good nutrition or even what constitutes a toxic diet (e.g. outlier Don Gorske).

Let's look at the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ontario bread scene. At Dean & Barb's No Frills, Country Harvest Vitality 14 Grain for $1.99 a loaf and 1gram of sugar per slice from "fancy molasses". Looks pretty good if you don't mind the Calcium Propionate as a preservative.

In any case, as a diabetic I fully understand how difficult it is to select and prepare healthy food without burning up way too much of your day. I don't understand what it's like to be a working mother and be expected to somehow have a successful full time career along with more than full time mom duties, but I'd guess that it's close to impossible. I hope you don't think we are in any way casting aspersions on your skills at putting food on the table or implying that you aren't doing the best job possible in that regard.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:08 AM on December 17, 2009


Everyone is right: Zinger, BrotherCaine, hippybear. Society is not set up right for what we want. Yes, good bread really costs $5 a loaf (but it might be less if there was more demand for it). Yes, food from scratch takes time you don't have (but you might have more time if you didn't have to spend so much in transit or at work). Yes, shopping frequently is inconvenient (but it might be less so if our living arrangements were different and we lived closer to food outlets). All these things are symptoms of deep problems whose causes we need to step back and think about.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:21 AM on December 17, 2009


Sadly BrotherCaine, the local No Frills doesn't stock the Vitality line. I didn't think anyone was casting aspersions, but thanks for the reassurance anyway!
posted by Zinger at 6:23 AM on December 17, 2009


If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, they do a good job of reasonably priced, healthy foods that take into account concerns like trans fats, HFCS, etc.
posted by msalt at 8:09 AM on December 17, 2009


You know, I got to thinking about i_am_joe's_spleen's comment, and I do have to admit that I have my life set up nicely. Granted, it means that I don't live in one of what I have taken to calling the "liberal urban centers", so there are all manner of social difficulties I have to put up with. Especially being an out homosexual living in a town of 9000 people on the "red" side of Washington, where the recent election pointed out that over 60% of my neighbors feel my relationship doesn't deserve recognition under state law... But I digress...

I have three grocery stores within 10 minutes' drive of my house, one of which I can walk to (it's 5 blocks away.) The post office and library are both within a 5 minute walk. The university where my partner works is equally closeby. I DO go shopping nearly every day for dinner, because I like to buy fresh and try to shop (what I lovingly call) the "used meat" bargains at the grocery stores, so I rarely pay full price. All of our grocery stores here (including Safeway) have produce which comes from local farms and have highly seasonal stock.

I guess I have structured my life in such a way that I don't have a lot of the difficulties which many may have trying to meet healthy eating choices. It's a trade-off, I suppose. I don't have much in the way of "gay culture" around me, and it gets a bit oppressive at times feeling like I'm lost is a sea of people who really hate me without having met me. But our household runs like clockwork, for very little money outlay, and I'm generally happy with the ease of access and quality of life around me.

Thanks for helping me step back and assess a bit, i_a_j_s... It's a healthy exercise during the dark time of the year.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on December 17, 2009


I was clearing out old links and found this: Fructose Wars.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:38 PM on December 18, 2009


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