Robert Lustigís YouTube lectures about the dangers of
sugar have raised a few eyebrows in recent years and even
drawn some criticism.
the pediatric endocrinologistís proclamations are
supported by research his team has done at the University of
California, San Francisco, with steady confirmation from
other scientific studies linking sugar with chronic disease
and early death. Among his points are:
Sugar is poison.
Sugar is sugar and unhealthy in any form.
calorie is not just a calorie. There are good ones and bad
ones, including sugar.
Obesity is not a prerequisite for metabolic illness. Eighty
percent of those with obesity do have metabolic disease or
resulting chronic illness. But 40 percent of people of
normal weight also have such diseases.
donít blame those who are obese or chronically ill for
their conditions. Itís not so much poor lifestyle behavior
as it is biochemical exposures to sugar and other
unhealthful ingredients that food manufacturers routinely
put into food products, with consumers often being unaware.
Prevention magazine says, "If itís packaged, itís
probably packed with sugar."
latest YouTube video, "Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0,"
has received 155,000 views and climbing. But his 2009
YouTube lecture, "Sugar: the Bitter Truth," which
details the biological consequences of high fructose corn
syrup, is approaching 4.5 million views. He also has two
books on the topic.
defers to Will Smith ó as Agent J in "Men in Black
3" ó to answer the question Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones)
asks: "Whatís the most destructive force in the
Agent J says, with an inquisitive lilt.
got it right. We know these substances are addictive and
hazardous to health," Lustig said, leading to an
audience scold. "Hollywood knows this. Why donít
is listed in Nutrition Facts food labels by 56 names,
including various malts and syrups. Most people might be
unaware that dextran, athyl maltol, treacle, panocha,
lactose and sorbitol also are names for sugar.
is drawing attention with the increased use of high fructose
corn syrup in foods, especially in soft drinks. The
sweetener produced chemically from corn starch provides
better texture and improves shelf life.
or table sugar, is half fructose, which is metabolized in
the liver, and glucose, which is blood sugar that produces
cellular energy to muscles and organs.
liver, excess fructose is transformed into fat, which can be
a factor in elevated cholesterol and arterial plaque. High
fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks has a 55-45 ratio of
fructose to glucose.
says sugar is addictive, although not everyone agrees. Some
researchers link high consumption rates to its overabundant
availability in American culture and diet.
recent study by Lustigís team concludes that 25 percent of
type 2 diabetes is caused specifically by sugar consumption.
also conclude that sugar consumption leads to fatty liver,
high triglyceride and bad LDL cholesterol levels, plaque in
blood vessels and insulin resistance leading to metabolic
syndrome and diabetes.
definitely are a number of studies that show within big
populations a big relationship between sugar consumption and
every metabolic disease we have ó diabetes, cardiovascular
disease, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, hypertension and
particular risk factors of (high cholesterol and
triglycerides)," said Kimber Stanhope, a University of
California, Davis, nutritional biologist.
studies, along with evidence from diet-intervention studies
in which we compare risk factors in human subjects consuming
high- or low-sugar diets, suggest that consumption of high
amounts of sugar promotes metabolic disease," she said.
February, a study published in the journal JAMA Internal
Medicine found that "most United States adults consume
more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy
diet," with findings of "a significant
relationship between added sugar consumption and increased
risk for cardiovascular disease mortality."
whose added sugar consumption was more than 10 percent but
below 25 percent of total daily calories face a 30 percent
higher risk of cardiovascular disease than those whose sugar
consumption was less than 10 percent. The risk of
cardiovascular disease nearly tripled for those whose diet
consisted of 25 percent or more of added sugar.
study said that findings were largely consistent across age
groups, gender, race or ethnicity (except for non-Hispanic
African-Americans), education level, physical activity and
body mass index.
higher percentage of calories from added sugar is associated
with significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease
mortality," the study concludes. "In addition,
regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is
associated with elevated cardiovascular mortality.
results support current recommendations to limit the intake
of calories from added sugars in U.S. diets," it
American Heart Association recommends fewer than 100
calories of sugar daily for women and 150 calories a day for
men ó about 5 percent or less of total daily calories.
Nutrition Facts labels proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, expected to be in place in two years, would
require companies to continue listing total sugar but also
"added sugar" to help people differentiate between
naturally occurring sugar in grains, nuts, fruits and
vegetables from those added by the manufacturer to enhance
taste, texture or shelf life.
fructose corn syrup is used in numerous processed foods,
including many soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
in fruit isnít considered a health risk because levels are
so low, because the fruit fiber slows the rate of
metabolism. Sucrose comprises equal amounts of glucose and
fructose. Too much of it overwhelms the liver, which causes
the liver to start turning some of the fructose into fat,
can stay in the liver, which may interfere with the liverís
ability to use insulin properly," Stanhope said.
"This is called insulin resistance, and it increases
risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Or the liver
can send the fat made from fructose into the blood stream
where it can increase risk of cardiovascular disease."
process is compounded by Americaís high consumption of
foods full of fat and sugar.
University of Pittsburgh study published in the Journal of
the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics involved a four-year
lifestyle intervention to gauge what impact lower sugar
consumption would have on weight.
study, conducted by Lewis Kuller, a Pitt Graduate School of
Public Health epidemiologist, and Bethany Barrone Gibbs,
assistant professor in Pittís department of health and
physical activity, showed that women who reduced sugar
consumption experienced weight loss in six months and also
in 48 months.
we found was that women with greater weight loss at both six
months and 48 months were eating fewer desserts and
sugar-sweetened beverages vs. when they started the
study," said Ms. Gibbs, a doctor of epidemiology.
"A few other eating behaviors were related to better
weight loss at either six months or 48 months, but only
reducing desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages was
associated with better weight loss in both the short and
research likely will never provide absolute proof of sugarís
impact on human health, population studies reveal a close
association between sugar consumption and metabolic disease.
That among growing evidence from diet intervention studies
raise red flags about its harm, much the way the health
impacts of cigarette smoking were determined, Stanhope said.
latest video, Lustig noted that "old medicine"
recognized infection as the main cause of disease with the
vector being the various microbes ó viruses, bacteria and
fungi. Nowadays, he says, medicine must focus on chronic
disease with the vector being "multinational
corporations," if we place the blame on food
manufacturing and marketing.
of the lack of direct evidence Stanhope referred to, food
companies maintain there is no proof that consuming sugar
causes a person to be more likely to get sick.
Q&A on the Pepsico website quotes a person asking about
the reported health risks of diets high in fructose.
studies have found that consumption of unusually high
amounts of pure fructose may trigger health concerns,"
Pepsico replies. "However, these concerns do not apply
to HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Despite its name, HFCS
is not high in fructose. HFCS and table sugar contain about
the same amount of fructose and neither has been shown to be
Stanhope, who consumes sugar only on special occasions
(about once a month) said evidence is more than sufficient
to advise people against its consumption.
think the data we have are strong but not definitive,"
she said. "People should be looking and listening and
realizing that there are no risks associated with reducing
sugar intake, but there may be risk in continuing to eat
high amounts of sugar while waiting for more definitive
scientific evidence. Parents should get their kids off sugar
and they should get off sugar themselves."
Common table sugar. It is a 50-50 combination of glucose and
fructose. Sucrose quickly breaks down in the intestines into
glucose and fructose, which head to the liver via the portal
vein where they undergo different biological processes.
A slightly sweet form of sugar produced by the breakdown of
starches and carbohydrates, including sugar, and used to
energize cells with the help of insulin. The liver has first
rights to all consumed sugar. If the liver has sufficient
energy, an enzyme that metabolizes glucose turns off. Unused
by the liver, the glucose goes bodywide to energize muscles,
organs and the brain. Too much blood glucose can lead to
insulin insensitivity, allowing glucose to build up in the
blood. The result is metabolic syndrome that can progress to
type 2 diabetes.
A sugar found naturally in fruits. In this form it is not
considered a health risk because levels are low; the fiber
in fruit delays the rate of metabolism. It can become a
problem, though, when consumed as added sugar. Fructoseís
first stop also is the liver. A different liver enzyme
metabolizes the fructose upon its arrival. Very little
fructose gets to the muscles, organs or the brain. Too much
fructose can overwhelm the liver, causing the development of
fat in the liver, which also can be a factor in high
cholesterol and arterial plaque.
Fructose Corn Syrup: A sugar chemically produced from corn
starch. This form of fructose is cheaper than sucrose with
the added appeal of providing food texture and also serving
as a preservative. For these reasons, it is used in a large
variety of processed foods, particularly a type used in soft
drinks that is a 55-45 combination of fructose to glucose.
Recent studies are showing fructose to be a factor in the
development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and
diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls.