Is the Mainstream Media Starting to Get a Clue?

Check it out.  The reporter seems resistant to the idea that anything could be wrong with giving kids juice boxes, and of course we had to hear from the Corn Refiners Association and a doctor who works for them.  But seeing Dr. Lustig on national TV is a real step forward.

I always find it interesting when doctors explain that we’re becoming fatter simply because we’re eating more.  Shouldn’t that explanation immediately spark another question … namely, WHY ARE WE EATING MORE?  Doesn’t appetite have something to do with food intake?  Shouldn’t we be looking for the reason our appetites have gone out of control?  As Gary Taubes pointed out, blaming obesity on eating too much is a bit like saying the cause of alcoholism is drinking too much.

Dr. Lustig says fructose messes up our leptin levels and makes us hungrier, so we eat too much.  Dr. Corn Refiner’s reply is that we eat too much.  That doesn’t even qualify as a retort if you think about it.


26 thoughts on “Is the Mainstream Media Starting to Get a Clue?

  1. The Cheap Vegetable Gardnener

    This is a great point, though this concept is so very simple many smart people (including myself at one time) have completely missed it.

    Personally being one of those people who has lost a considerable amount of weight and slowly gained it back without really noticing and seemly go from healthy to a fatass. Like many of us, this didn’t happen with me eating a gallon of Ice Cream every night or nightly trips to the local buffet bar “getting my money’s worth” but simply eating when I was hungry.

    Not until with my recent weight loss I have discovered that what you eat is much more important than how much of it, well at least if you don’t want to feel like you are starving between meals. Possibly more important how after considerable carb consumption can induce feelings of hunger in my head within 10-15 minutes.

    Carbs certainly can induce hunger, and it’s not just in your head. If an insulin spike packs the calories away into fat storage, your cells can run low on fuel even if you’ve eaten recently.

  2. Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother

    Two frustrating points. The first clip was edited to take Lustig’s comments mostly out of context and present them as simplistic answers to the narration (which was added later, of course). I haven’t held a stopwatch to it, but I’d bet the reporter — combining live and voice over — spoke more than the various experts.

    And at the end of the second clip, they point out that people have been told to reduce salt intake to keep blood pressure down. With the new research, they might need to keep glucose down also. Really? Shouldn’t that have been keep glucose down *instead* because the prior research was apparently wrong?

    Legitimate complaints, but to see someone like Lustwig on network news at all is an improvement.

  3. Melissa

    I was listening to Dr. Lustig being interviewed on Underground Wellness lastnight and he’s a great talker with lots of info so I’m glad he’s getting some main media attention.

    Though he attributes most problems to fructose and sugar, he doesn’t back up (by research) that anything is wrong with carbs in general. He’s big on lots of fibre to keep one satiated, not fat. Sooooo I don’t agree with everything he says because in my experience it’s fat not fiber that satiates me.
    I also think there is alot of other health issues besides sugar, but I”m glad to see him on!

    Apparently a portion of fiber turns to fat in the digestive tract, so maybe it does help with appetite. I still prefer butter.

  4. Wanda

    Great clips, but did anyone else notice that the opposition to Dr. Ludwig were all somehow going to lose money if we stopped eating sugary products… the beverage association, Pepsico, the corn refiners… Hmmm.

    I’m disappointed ABC didn’t point that out. I guess it was implied.

  5. Todd S.

    It definitely is about what you eat. Since I’ve gone to a high-fat diet (with a corresponding decrease in carbs) I find that I eat less in general. When eating the SAD, if I went more than 3 hours without eating I would get shaky and faint. I was convinced I was hypoglycemic. With the way I eat now, I can often go a full day and not even think about food. If I eat breakfast, I don’t even think about eating until I get home form work 10 or 11 hours later. And I don’t overeat either. Even though I’ve gone an extended time without food, I eat a normal sized meal and feel fine.

    Like most people, I eat when I’m hungry, but I’ve come to realize that my brain can now differentiate between “hunger” and “craving”. I think the sugar and processed grains that comprise the SAD cloud the brain’s judgement on that point.

    I think that’s exactly right. They pervert our appetites.

  6. Jan

    Oh, so Mother Nature has provided us with fructose, has she?

    I guess she’s extracted it, refined it, concentrated it and slapped it a bottle with some fizzy water and caramel color, too.


    Hey, here’s a term we could use for twits who think HFCS is just fine: Twix. I believe that’s a candy.

  7. Lori

    It’s interesting that you mention alcoholism. In “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution,” Atkins says, “Addictive people seem to have one thing in common: an underlying hypoglycemia. We certainly see hypoglycemia in sugar addicts, in alcoholics, in coffee addicts.” Substitute diabetes for hypoglycemia and drug addicts for alcoholics, and you’d cover nearly everyone in my family.

    As for fructose, nothing gives me acid reflux worse than fruit: sugar with no fat to slow down its digestion. It burns as fast as a prairie fire–and feels like one to me. I can eat a carby protein bar now and then with no ill effect.

    It was interesting to hear from the cardiologist who worked for the corn industry. I thought I’d lost my ability to be shocked.

    I wrote a post a long time ago about how how my carb-loaded diet was leading to drinking problems:

  8. Gwen

    Only a FUD-soaked nitwit would take away from Bitter Truth the idea that we should only focus on the single culprit of fructose as THE SOLE VILLAIN in the obesity crime. It is a major player, but it isn’t the only one. ALL of our foods need to work together — there are good carbs and there are bad carbs, there are good proteins, there are bad proteins. There are good fats, there are bad fats. There is good sugar — glucose — and there is BAD sugar — fructose. There are good and bad ways to prepare everything — eat your fruit with the fiber, don’t juice it out and throw away the pulp. So Dr. Corn Shillmeister did have a kernel of truth (badump-ching) in what he said, he just slanted it to make what Dr. Lustig said sound ridiculously simplistic — reductio ad absurdum.

    He is absolutely right, though — every time there’s been this tunnel-vision focus on a single nutrient or food component as the culprit, it’s been wrong. They blamed protein back when Kellog invented corn flakes. Ancel Keyes blamed fat and cholesterol. Am I the only one who still has Susan Powter’s book “stop the insanity”, where she exhorts everyone to eschew fatty muffins to eat wholesome, carby bagels — because fat has nine calories per gram, but carbs only 4? (I fell for that idiocy…I ate my bagels with fat-free jam. Didn’t work.)

    So we do the smart thing, and look at what they all did wrong, and all of the things that have been bad and have made us sick over the past 100 years, and eat the things that have made us healthy over that time period instead. Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this!

    Well, don’t do that!

  9. Bob

    I just finished reading an article by Scott Feschuk in “Macleans” (a Canadian news magazine). I think he’s hit the nail on the head…

    quote: “Getting fat is the most patriotic thing an American can do today. Each mouth is its own stimulus program. Citizens begin by supporting fast-food companies, then they enrich the drug companies and, ultimately, they politely die of wholesale organ failure just before they use up any Social Security money. Deficit tamed. Your move, China.”

    Here’s the whole article if you’re interested….

    Funny article. Too bad he believes fatty food is the problem, instead of sugar and starch.

  10. Sarah

    Seen the new Sherlock Holmes yet?

    “People tend to change facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”

    That reminded me SO MUCH of fat head.

    That’s certainly what happend with the Lipid Hypothesis. In Malcolm Kendrick’s book The Great Cholesterol Con, he gives a brief history of the many twists and turns … quite funny, too.

  11. Felix

    I can’t help but think this fructose-thing is overrated. There are special parts in our physiology designed specifically to metabolize fructose. From an evolutionary point of view, we are more likely to cope with high doses of carbs from fructose than from glucose, since there are more carbs in fruit than in vegetables. So, saying that “fructose is poison” as Lustig said in his famous “bitter truth”-video is oversimplifying it, I think – if not wrong. If these studies are any indication, it seems that fructose makes you eat less, not more.

    There is an interview between Seth Roberts and Gary Taubes where they discuss how Seth lost weight basically drinking sugar water and flavorless oil between meals (his “Shangri-La” diet).

    Here’s a quote from Taubes in this interview, basically saying that fructose reduces your hunger:

    “TAUBES The experiments that Freedman and I think Ramirez did to demonstrate that the liver must sense hunger, must sense fuel availability, is they did intravenous infusions of fructose, Fructose is metabolized only in the liver. It’s not metabolized in the brain. So they infused fructose into the blood stream of rats and it suppressed eating behavior. That’s one of many experiments they did that suggested that somehow what we sense as hunger is being communicated by the liver. It’s always made sense to me. So if you only use fructose, and you don’t get an insulin response to fructose, it would make sense that it suppresses hunger. In my book, I discuss the hypothesis that whatever prompts an insulin response is what causes us to get hungry. So, the fructose, I can understand. Actually, if you’re now eating real sucrose, that’s where it gets complicated, because with sucrose, you’re going to get an insulin response. Unless the fructose component outweighs the glucose, but then, what is it about the absence of taste? Why would Coke make you fat, and sugar water not?”

    The entire interview is here:

    Interesting stuff, but I still think fructose does something to the appetite — maybe not when it comes as a piece of fruit, but it amazes me how much Coke teenagers can put away these days at those free-refill places.

  12. Ned Kock

    It seems to me that one distinctive feature of many adults in hunter-gatherer populations, when compared with adults in urban populations, is that the hunter-gatherers are a lot less obsessed with food:

    And they tend to be thin too, even though some consume plenty of fructose (e.g., the Kitavans). In my opinion, two key problems are: (1) obsession with food; and (2) overconsumption of foods rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars.


  13. Karl

    I saw a woman today eating a hot dog, smoking a cigarette and inhaling a sugary drink from McDonald’s while she had a conversation with a colleague about how she is having difficulty losing weight. She mentioned that she was always tired, irritated, and was constantly hungry. They were both at a loss about the situation, and were even talking about discussing this with her doctor. She told her doctor that she eats well, but doesn’t know why she is gaining weight…and on and on.

    I have family members who are doing the same thing, and I know athletes who eat this way to exercise far too much just to “burn it all off.”

    I know from my personal experience, and from my students who have listened to me, that decreasing the sugar will make a big difference so long as people learn to read labels and replace the sugar with more fulfilling, real foods.

    Thanks for the work you are doing, we appreciate your humor along with the great articles. I especially loved the NuVal article and the “Kids need cake” post as well.

    Thank you, Karl.

  14. Tracey

    I remember sitting in my first nutrition lecture this year listening to our lecturer talk about how new the science of nutrition is… that it’s only been around since the 1950s. I think I was the only one in the room that saw the irony in that statement…

    I hope you were able to stifle the laugh.

  15. Jim Purdy

    Doctor Lustig does make a powerful argument, doesn’t he? An easier to understand version of Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories”

    And a lot more people watch TV than will ever tackle Gary’s book.

  16. Cameron

    It’s good to see a scientifically accurate news segment, but Dr. Lustig’s idea of carding kids for soda is ridiculous. Are we going to card kids anytime they buy something that contains sugar? Why is soda so special?

    I agree. I don’t like nanny-state authorities deciding what’s good for people, even if their information is accurate.

  17. anand srivastava

    To Felix.
    You know you can lose a lot of weight by smoking a few packs of cigarettes. Losing weight is one thing and being healthy is another. Which the flavourless oil and fructose drink will not provide.

  18. Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother

    I just watched the DVD version of Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire” and realized something. I haven’t heard anyone talk about the fact that sugar sources evolve to meet our needs (and desires) faster than we can evolve to them.

    I expanded on the idea here:

    Well done. Reminds me of a point Lierre Keith made in The Vegetarian Myth: grains domesticated humans.

  19. John Hunter

    Drew brings up some really good points and an interesting argument. But i don’t think it is the plant that evolved itself. I believe we have evolved the plant by selectively breeding and exploiting the desirable abnormalities. No different then our less fatty swine, and our unable to breed on their own butterball turkeys. We’ve tinkered with everything we eat to make it last longer on the shelf, ship easier, produce more for less and taste they way we think it should so much, that most of our whole foods we eat today would probably be unrecognizable to people 400 years ago.

  20. Debbie

    I loved Dr. Lustig’s YouTube presentation, and it was great to see his message make it to broadcast TV. I agree that fructose is a major problem and I avoid it as much as I can – but I think it’s bigger than that alone, and I think it’s a shame Dr. Lustig refuses to appear on Jimmy Moore’s podcasts.

    Yeah, I wish he’d do a podcast as well.

  21. Chris

    Last week, my Chicago Tribune hit the front stoop wihtwo free samples of Trix and Honey Nut Cheerios included in the wrapper. I didn’t know whether to cancel my subscription or write another letter to the editor that won’t get published. The Tribune business section covers Kraft and Sarah Lee–Chicago’s largest purveyors of sugar and HFCS. Oh, yeah, and McDonald’s headquarters is in Northbrook. As Lustig points out in “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” only 6 foods at McDonald’s don’t have corn syrup in them. Watching the spokespeople for the Corn Refiners Association makes you realize how many compromises people and the corporations they work for will make for money. These companies believe they are only making foods because people demand them. I think they know they are selling poison, but have an obligation to their shareholders to keep the profits up. What say you?

    They have to know that sugar and HFCS are bad for you. They can’t possibly be that blind.

  22. Rahul

    That second DR who was a lackey of the corn refiners, did researches funded by Pepsi co. to get his results (how do we not get suspcious about this guys research right from this point lol). I bet his research pointed the culprits to be straight at sugar so he probably got rid of that evidence and then concluded “We are getting fat because we are eating more….” which is weird because I would expect that was a very obvious conclusion and I’m sure he could have figured that out before he did his research for “Pepsi Co.”

    Plenty of scientists are just employees, paid to produce pre-defined results.


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