In a recent 60 Minutes segment, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on research showing the dangers of fructose to human health. He says its “new” research that shows the connection between sugar and health, but in reality, the research is not new. I’ve reported on the connections here and elsewhere for quite some time and the 60 Minutes segment didn’t really report anything new.
According to Lustig and his team of researchers, sugar can be blamed for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even some form of cancers. I believe it’s more accurate to say that the abuse or over-consumption of sugar (like the abuse of any substance) is problematic.
Dr. Robert Lustig started his anti-sugar campaign, and the labeling of sugar as a toxin, in 2009 with a lecture titled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”.
While I would commend Sanjay Gupta and Robert Lustig for bringing this issue to public attention, I wonder if they may have some hidden agenda behind their message.
I mostly agree with the problems presented, it’s the solutions I have problems with and I disagree with the premise that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are the same.
Like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is a toxic, addictive substance that should be highly regulated with taxes, laws on where and to whom it can be advertised, and even age-restricted sales, they say. Lustig calls for a global policy to reduce sugar consumption.
I disagree that “sugar” is the problem.
Lustig’s solutions have already been tried and has brought us to where we are today (are you familiar with the Hegelian dialectic?). It was governmental production quotas of domestic sugar, subsidies of U.S. corn, and an import tariff on foreign sugar; all of which combined to raise the price of God made sugar to levels above those of the rest of the world, making HFCS less costly for many sweetener applications.
I believe the problem is related to high fructose corn syrup. Lustig does not see a difference between sugar and HFCS… he says they are the same. That is consistent with the Corn Refiners Association who claims and maintains that HFCS is comparable to table sugar.
I beg to differ. Sugar is God made, it is a granulated, salt-like sweet powder that comes from sugarcane or sugar beets. High-fructose corn syrup is essentially man made, it is a corn syrup that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness.
Lustig rightly asks the question, “Why is HFCS in so many food products?” You’ll find HFCS in juice drinks, soda, breakfast cereals, yogurt, salad dressings, breads and baked goods, spaghetti sauces, ketchup, condiments, canned and frozen fruits, candy and candy bars, and granola, breakfast and energy bars.
He also answers that question… “It makes food cheap.”
Therein lies the problem, in my opinion. Money.
Good quality, nutritious food costs more money.
On the one hand, we are told that America is the most prosperous nation on the planet… and on the other hand most Americans cannot afford good quality, nutritious food. Their solution: bio-engineer our food supply to make it cheap. The result: poor quality, non-nutritious food that is making us sick.
One interesting example Lustig uses is what he calls the “Coca-cola conspiracy.” That soda contains caffine (a diuretic that elevates the rate of urination) and salt (sodium). Sugar is added to hide the salt. This combination creates a drink that makes you thirsty and wanting to drink even more… and more… and more money into the coffers of the Coca-Cola Company. How convenient?
As I said previously, I mostly agree with the problem Lustig talks about, it’s the solutions I disagree with. Lustig suggests more government control, laws, and increased taxes to curb consumption. I would suggest more personal responsibility to make healthier food choices and holding the corporate food producers accountable for their food adulteration.