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Fructose and Obesity

Posted Jan 18 2011 7:12am

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jimmy Moore’s podcast last summer with Dr. Robert Lustig has been the single most memorable podcast I’ve ever listened to.  In a nutshell, Dr. Lustig explains that children who are obese are victims to their biochemistry.  This is evident in the fact that we have obese 6 month old babies today!  The fact that we have literally added fructose to every processed food on the market has changed their biochemistry.  Fructose is not recognized by the brain the same way that glucose is.  In fact, a child (or adult of course) can eat fructose and still think he’s starving. He will naturally move less (become sloth’s) and eat more because the leptin signals that tell you to stop eating when you are full are not getting the message to the brain.  In studies where these signals are allowed to work, the kids naturally and spontaneously started exercising, and their carbohydrate consumption naturally and spontaneously went down!  When it’s broken, they want to sit around on the couch eating chips.  Their brain is telling them to do this to conserve energy.  These kids have no chance of getting their biochemistry to get back to normal unless we can do something about the amount of fructose in our food supply.  

So that is the basis of his 90 minute lecture (which is Fabulous), and also two podcasts he had with Jimmy Moore.  So, yesterday I took notes from his lecture and here are some main points that I thought were interesting (if you don’t have 90 minutes).

  • The Japanese diet and the Atkins diet both work because it eliminates fructose.  Japanese eat loads of rice (carbs) but it is void of fructose.
  • Our genetic pool hasn’t changed the last 30 years, but our environment has.
  • Leptin is a hormone in your fat cells that tell your brain you’ve had enough food.  If we are eating more calories than we need, leptin is not working properly.  If it worked properly, we would not be eating
  • Steep decline in childhood obesity when they limit soft drinks and fruit juices.
  • Steep decline in Type 2 diabetes when soft drinks and fruit juice consumption declines.
  • The issue goes way beyond empty calories.  Fruit juice and soda are not just empty calories, it’s a poison by itself.  It does not send those signals to our brain that we have eaten.
  • Recommended book, Pure White and Deadly (1972).  Even though written in 1972, Dr. Lustig says everything in it is true today!
  • When we switched to low fat as a country, processed foods took out more fat, added HFCS or sucrose and removed the fiber.  Low fat home cooked meals can still taste good without adding sugar.
  • Chronic Fructose exposure promotes metabolic syndrome (obesity, type two diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease)
  • He spends a good deal of time showing the biochemistry of ethanol and fructose is similar.  Both metabolized straight at the liver.  We wouldn’t give our kids a can of beer, so why would we give them a can of soda?
  • When you consume a load of glucose, almost none of it ends up as fat.  Consume a load of fructose and 30% ends up as fat!!!  THIRTY PERCENT STRAIGHT TO FAT!  You aren’t consuming a carbohydrate when you eat fructose, you are eating fat!  A high sugar diet IS  a high fat diet.
  • High fructose feedings doubled triglycerides.
  • You continue to consume food because your brain thinks it’s starving. It literally increases your appetite.
  • Interventions Dr. Lustig uses in his clinic to treat childhood obesity
  • Exercise is important in obesity because it:
  • This is my favorite quote in the whole lecture.  He’s speaking on how fructose in fruit is different than table sugar.
  • Eat carbs with fiber (even the sugar cane literally starts out as a stick, surrounded by fiber!)
  • When you eat fiber with your fructose, you
  • Back to those obese 6 month olds: 10% of formula is sugar! It’s a baby milkshake.  Soda is also 10% sucrose! This is a problem.
  • Studies show the earlier you expose your kids to sweet, the more likely they will crave it later.  (Explains my 12 year old!)
  • The more sugar a pregnant women drinks, the more sugar gets across her placenta, changing kids adiposity before he is even born!

One more idea from the podcast , not heard in the lecture.

  • Parents come into his clinic complaining that their kid won’t eat, therefore he’s not growing.  He says, it’s the opposite. “Your kid isn’t growing, so your kid doesn’t eat!” If you step in and overfeed during this period of “non-growth”, the only thing you are going to do is add body fat.

Although the lecture and the podcasts are quite long, I recommend putting the podcast on anything mobile, leaving your kids with a sitter, and taking a walk so you can listen with your full attention! I promise it’s worth it!

  • I will accept that science is always changing, and we should be smart enough and open minded enough to realize that prior held dogma could be wrong. (he goes into great detail about saturated fat not being the cause of cardiovascular disease, rather it’s the sugar!)
  • Processed food is already pretty limited at our house, so that’s a good thing.  We will continue to check labels on the things we do buy.  Some items add sugar that you wouldn’t think, like pretzels and bread.
  • We will limit juice (which is a luxury around here anyway).
  • I will not limit what they eat outside of the home.  If you think my 12 year old is going to turn down a cupcake brought in by a birthday child in his 6th grade class, you are crazy!  He’s my most sugar crazed kid ever.  In fact, when we meet people who know about my blog, he likes to tell them his favorite food is candy! It’s embarrassing.  Erica on the other hand, would turn down sugar just to be different.  The best thing I can do is teach them, and let them govern themselves.

A little FYI: Fructose is found in table sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, honey, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup. and of course fruits and vegetables, which we decided is not harmful.


The Youtube video of Dr. Lustigs lecture:

So what do you think? Is it possible to limit fructose in our food supply?  Is it possible to limit fructose in your own household?  What changes will you make?


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