Another Lecture On Fructose

      21 Comments on Another Lecture On Fructose

Swamped with work again. If only Fat Head had the kind of exposure in the USA that it’s had in, say, New Zealand, I might be happily unemployed right now. Oh well. While I’m busy trying to wrap up my latest project, here’s an interesting lecture on sugar and fructose. Not a whole lot of new information, but it’s good to be reminded why cookies and ice cream aren’t worth the temporary pleasure.

Some interesting points: 

I tend to gain weight on starches and I don’t get along with wheat, but lectures like this one have me convinced that starch is clearly not as damaging as sugar.  If you’re not going to stick to a low-carb diet, at least avoid the sweet stuff.

I’ve read in several articles that only a small fraction of the population is salt-sensitive.  The rest of us can salt our food to our heart’s content and the salt won’t give us high blood pressure.  Dr. Johnson explains where what could make the difference:  once fructose has damaged the kidneys (apparently through producing high levels of uric acid), salt does raise blood pressure.  So don’t eat sugar and enjoy your salt … even while the FDA works to limit the salt in packaged foods and doesn’t say diddly about sugar.

How many times have we talked about how the “gluttony and sloth” crowd has it backwards?  That is, they say we gain weight because we’re lazy and eat too much, whereas people like Gary Taubes have said we become lazy and eat more because we’re gaining weight.  As Dr. Johnson explains here, fructose affects the appetite and promotes weight gain, and at the same time it depletes energy.  Who the heck wants to go for a jog when it feels like work just to stand up?

Perhaps we should show clips from this lecture next to those stupid “Sweet Surprise” ads put out by the Corn Refiners Association, then see who people believe.


21 thoughts on “Another Lecture On Fructose

  1. David

    While it may be true for you that starches are not as bad as sugar, I would encourage you to let your meter determine that, not your weight gain. I’m a diabetic and my blood sugar will actually rise higher and faster if I eat a baked potato than it will if I eat sugar straight form the (formerly extant) sugar bowl. If one’s metabolism is already damaged, general guidelines no longer apply. Strict testing is the only way to know how various foods affect you.

    That’s a good point. One reason I avoid wheat is that it sends my blood sugar shooting up, beyond anything the glycemic index would predict. Lots of researchers point to native cultures where people eat a starchy diet with no problems, but as I’ve said before: those are people who didn’t discover Captain Crunch and Coca-Cola as children.

  2. Elenor

    You know, Tom — I’ve been thinking lately (which is always a scary thing!) I’m trying to figure out what department in a Uni. would be teaching “critical thinking” — pre-law? philosophy? business/marketing? Seems to me a prof might be able/interested in using Spurlock’s idiocy and your stellar effort to ‘force’ the students to actually think. (and only incidentally awaken them to low carb… {wink})

    You know — show them Mr. Vegan’s hyperbole and they, being modern younglings, will of COURSE completely agree…. and then show them Fat Head and ask them to reconcile the two. Send them off to do a bit of research and report back on where the science leads, and have them dissect the techniques used to ‘convince’ the audience in both movies. I’m gonna try with my local Uni. as soon as I can decide which dept to approach (first). (I keep WANTING to locate the high school classes that are showing “SuperSick Morgan” — but it’s much harder to get ‘into’ those schools — and the curriculum is much more tightly controlled, at least here in Georgia.)

    Anyway, I’ve got your movie loaned out to a friend whose husband was put on a low-sodium diet for his high bp, and to her distress, the diet’s not DOING anything! I’ll have her read this too, of course!) Thanks for trying to rescue folks!

    I had a philosophy professor in college who emphasized critical thinking, but of course some big-name philosophers insisted logic is only a tool that doesn’t have anything to do with reality, so perhaps the math departments should tackle that one.

    Mike Eades described the diet-to-drugs sequence to me way back when we first met: “Look at these lab scores, patient … high cholesterol, high blood pressure. Tsk, tsk. I’m putting you on a low-fat, low-salt diet.” (Six months later …) “My goodness, your lab scores haven’t improved a bit. Are you following the diet? Are you sure? Well, we tried … Now I’m going to have to prescribe you some medications …”

  3. Paul451


    Can you provide some addys on the articles you’ve been reading on salt sensitivity?

    Gary Taubes looked at this very subject a while back and while reviewing those old articles I came upon GCBC…then Eades Protein Power…then the next thing you know, I’m 25 pounds lighter…

    Anyone catch the recent Scientific American article blaming refined carbs for heart disease?

    Yes, it’s encouraging that a mainstream publication is turning the ship a bit. Google “salt blood pressure myth” and you’ll find a ton of stuff to read. A few I’ve read:

    I take it you’ve already read the Taubes article on salt.

  4. Jan

    Tom, I’m doing my part for your gainful unemployment – I bought Fat Head on Amazon and made my husband and teenage son sit down and watch it. The spouse turned around the next day and lent it to one of our programmers – a poorly controlled Type II diabetic who is barely 28 years old.

    As for my 15-year-old, he is examining EVERYTHING he eats now for refined carbohydrates and HFCS. My eyes no longer bug out and my jaw has stopped dropping on the floor. Thank goodness – I have a feeling it was extremely unattractive…

    I appreciate the extra step towards my retirement.

  5. Dave, RN

    I had a RD go all hard core on me because I suggested limiting fruit to a relative who’s wanting to lose a little weight and tone up. He said we need fruits because the sugars are “natural”.

    I know he doesn’t know any better, but I still don’t think “natural sugar” is really any better for us than “natural opium”.

    Ask him how he feels about natural saturated fat.

  6. Jayne Hunter

    Hi Tom, if you ever get to New Zealand, we have to get you on Nine to Noon, on the radio. A great program with long in-depth interviews, also a very popular show. It would be such a relief to hear common sense, instead of the usual saturated fat, calories in, calories out blah, blah, blah. Jayne

    It’s a date.

  7. Laurie D.

    Elenor, I do just what you suggest with my high school anatomy classes. Most of the kids have already seen Spurlock’s film, so I begin by asking what they learned and get the usual CW responses. Then I show them FatHead and they are incredulous at first and then rather angry that they have been duped all along. I follow with King Corn, then Food, Inc. throughout the year, reinforcing the message that students need to think and question everything. It’s been very successful and it’s great to see the transformation. I guess you could say I am making them a bit cynical, but I think that is a good thing.

    I wish there were ways to get the word out more about FatHead. My students absolutely loved it!

  8. Victoria

    Another New Zealander here, extending an invitation to visit! I am lucky enough to live on a dairy farm and yes the cows here eat grass, grass and more grass, in large padocks with trees and hedges for shelter. I was horrifed to watch King Corn and Food Inc and to see how cattle are “farmed” (more like incarcerated) for consumption in the US, it acutally brought tears to my eyes to see animals treated like that. I am lucky enough to know excatly where the beef I eat came from, and what it was fed. You would be welcome to visit and experience a true NZ dairy farm system!

    My only fear about visiting is that I won’t want to come home.

  9. Kate

    In my experience, the engineering college does a pretty good job of developing critical thinking skills. At my university, none of these skills were taught explicitly, but rather as a by product of so much math and science as well as being very results focused.

    The biggest problem with adding Fat Head the those curricula is that there are already so many required engineering and math classes, classes that are required for every other major in the university are cut to make room for more core classes.

    Now that you mention it, my physics professor was pretty adamant about critical thinking as well. I guess physics doesn’t lend itself to fuzzy logic.

  10. Ramona Denton

    Hey Tom, Great news!!

    I am loaning a copy of Fat Head to the occupational nurse at my former employer (also where my sister Christina still works). The nurse asked Christina for ideas for the annual health fair, and Christina suggested setting up a Fat Head DVD in one corner of the room and playing over and over all day!!

    I think the nurse is borrowing mine just to review it. I’m pretty sure she’s going to buy her own copy if she decides to feature it in her fair. One company health fair is not a LOT of exposure – especially a company that has laid off most of its workforce – but “corporate America” is a good potential audience…

    Fat Head is not only good information, but it’s FUNNY, and THAT will be a BIG DRAW at a corporate health fair, where they are used to low fat cardboard snack bars, free cholesterol tests and refrigerator magnets that quack AFFLACK!

    I appreciate that, Ramona. Every bit of exposure helps.

  11. Geoff

    Looks like Dr Richard would benefit from going low carb (including fructose) himself.

    Well, we can safely bet he’s off the fructose. Maybe low-carb will be next.

  12. Mark. Gooley

    The ads that come up for this blog entry include one for (really!). For me, anyway.

    Yup, some of the ads Google places here make no sense.

  13. Rahul

    Hey Tom,
    I think that exposure you got in NZ is thanks to the Documentary Channel that plays your Fat-Head video about 5 to 7 times a month lol that’s how I came across your video. Also we kiwi’s are always thinking outside the box and are very open minded to new ideas and any idea or theory that says meat and fat is good for us would have full support from us 😛 Hopefully some day your country provides you the same support and respect soon. If not you can always just move here 😛

    Geez, I’d settle for one per month in the U.S.

  14. Jacqui W

    “My only fear about visiting is that I won’t want to come home.”

    I can totally understand that Tom having visited NZ in Feb 2008 for a holiday and then emigrated here in April 2008 from the UK with my American husband. We loved it in the first few days and have been here happily for 12 years now. Loved Fat Head, really opened my eyes and I’m a bit scared to lend my copy in case I don’t get it back. I recently made Feta & Haloumi cheese with my friend who is a dairy farmers wife – so great to know exactly what is going into my food. And we were laughing the other day when watching an old episode of The Biggest Loser as it seems they have to teach the contestants what vegetables are and how to cook them! Some of them only see a veg on a pizza it seems.

    We will continue to preach the word here in NZ until such time as you manage to visit 🙂

    I hope it’s soon. Sounds like a terrific place.

  15. D

    Laurie D, if you can get a copy of My Big Fat Diet, about the First Nation town in Canada who did without sugar or starch and went back to their original diet to combat obesity and a huge problem with diabetes, you might want to add it to your list of films for your students. Here’s a link to the site:

    Great documentary. I bought a copy.

  16. Alex

    I was wondering is it still safe to consume fruit? I keep reading about the dangers of fructose and am now scared of eating fruit. What’s your stance of fruit considering it contains fructose.


    I think it’s a matter of dose. Much of the fruit we eat today was genetically engineered to be sweeter than what our ancestors consumed, and of course they only consumed fruit in season. But a bit of fruit here and there isn’t the problem — the problem is soda, candy, ice cream, doughnuts, etc., not to mention the gazillion products that use HFCS as both a sweetener and preservative.

  17. Chris Walquist

    Read your glucose ups and downs post Tom, very interesting! I too bought a meter and have been busily sticking myself ever since. I echo David’s point about measuring. I’m very skinny, supposedly very healthy. I found that a single vanilla-frosted long john gave me the highest reading yet recorded, 178. (Slugging a can of coke gets me to about 161). The coke has ‘way more sugar, about twice as much, but the donut carbs are what really gets me!

    On a related note, I also found that an A1C test (about $16 per self-test from a drug store) placed me in the bottom of the diabetic range (6.1% glycated hemoglobin), which I found disturbing. My 3-month goal is to see how far I can get out of that range.

    Good luck. If you watch your glucose and adjust your food choices accordingly, I’d bet you’ll get there.

  18. Shawn

    Regarding “Mike Eades described the diet-to-drugs sequence”, I couldn’t agree more.
    In my experience, I’ve watched my mother drop 50 lbs in the last 6 months due to a prescription of Metformin for borderline diabetes diagnosis. A dangerous drop in my amature opinion, that could have been regulated with diet and exercise, not drugs.
    Prior to Metformin, my mother was on Lipitor, and now she has extreem mood swings, heart palpitations, frequent constipation w/ diahrea and forgetfulness- such that she never experienced before these drugs. But she still trusts the prescibing MD!

    Thank you for getting the word out about that cycle of chemical experimentation by MDs who practice Big Pharma Chemistry while having minimal expertise in human nutrition.

    I hope your mom gets off the pharmaceutical roller-coaster.

  19. Chris Walquist

    A friend of mine who is a diabetes researcher raises some questions about Johnson’s ATP depletion claims in his talk. My friend’s analysis here: I also transcribed Johnson’s talk,, and

    Thanks for the transcription. I bookmarked it for future reference.


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