Fructose Gets a “Not Guilty” Verdict

In a meta-analysis primarily funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and published in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from universities across The Great White North and the United States examined the effects of fructose on weight gain. What they found might only surprise Robert Lustig and TV drama king Dr. Oz: When it comes to weight gain, a calorie is a calorie – no more, no less.

Or, as co-author John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto told Reuters: The study “represents pretty reasonable evidence that fructose in and of itself doesn’t contribute to weight gain. But when it contributes extra energy, that’s when you do see weight gain.” Reuters continues:

Researchers have wondered whether there’s something about fructose – typically found in fruits as well as baked goods and sugar-sweetened beverages – that makes people store fat and gain weight faster than other carbohydrates. …

The results suggest it’s not the fructose itself that causes weight gain, according to the researchers.

That shouldn’t be surprising. But given the media profile of researchers who argue that fructose is “toxic” and addictive –  and propose that Kelly Brownell’s “Twinkie Tax” should be a starting point for food-punishment regulations –  these “dog bites man” stories need to be told.

That’s why people should consider exercising more to lose weight rather than following the food scare of the week. Unfortunately, the media love a good food scare. Whether there are animal-rights activists’ billboards showing “Your Thighs on Cheese,” public health officials targeting bread as the king of salty foods, or schools banning chocolate milk, the latest food scares find their way into public conversation. However, they do nothing to make Americans any healthier.

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