UCSF scientists declare war on sugar in food


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, says a team of UCSF scientists.

Yeah, I can see this taking off. I’m not saying it isn’t unhealthy. I’m saying that this will never be legislated, ever.

On the other hand, I do not see this ever taking off anywhere outside of the Portland/San Francisco type of town. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, sugar has nutritive content. Specifically, it has the MOST important nutrient - calories. I’m extremely skeptical of anybody claiming that it’s actually “addictive” (particularly given the fact that sugar metabolizes to the same thing as any other carbohydrate) and I doubt there’s much support for this in broader America.

Yeah, because alcohol has no calories.

Fuck this. Instead, they should declare war on HFCS in food. I would support that.

I have had that exact same thought about so many things, and they all got regulated.

Our society is just going to get more and more regulated, not less.

Hell yes. Barely any food has actual sugar in it anymore, so what the hell are they even going to accomplish? It’s all HFCS, all the time, now.

Of course it does, but to my knowledge, that has never been why anybody ever ingested it for any reason, since the metabolic process for breaking it down is so long and drawn out that you’d have flipped your wig from starvation long before you got any benefit out of it. Sugar, on the other hand, not unlike iron, helps us play (in the Flanders sense of the phrase), and has no significant cognitive effect that any other carbohydrate does not also have.

I also think that there’s a little bit of a misunderstanding going on in the discussion. Sugar of whatever variety is most economical (corn-sourced in the United States, cane in other places) is indeed added to many different foods, but not for no reason. That would be stupid. You add sweetener to make things sweeter because that’s what people want to taste. You could argue that the most popular formulation of corn syrup (42/58 F/G) could be more efficiently replaced by the slightly sweeter sugar, but I’m not sure you’re going to see much of a difference in total calorie count.

I’ve heard that fermentation was used for longer term storage of perishable foods, like apples->cider, but I’m not sure how prevalent that was. Certainly a lot of grains that we typically make alcohol out of would have a sufficient shelf like to survive between harvests.

I wish they would sweeten less foods and maybe start souring them.

The different ways in which different sugars activate the glucagenic response cycle (or whatever it’s called, it’s been a couple years) are, well, different. This imperfectly correlates - or doesn’t correlate at all - with the actual caloric content of the sugars and with the perceived sweetness thereof.

Not to mention that the only reason HFCS is most economical is because of the double whammy of corn subsidies and sugar tariffs, the latter of which we actually pay fines for because they violate treaties we’ve signed. Hilarious, no?

Disclaimer: I could be wrong about everything so go look it up. Also I am a long time and only slowly recovering sugar addict.

HFCS = Sucrose, and when you are talking about sugar you are talking about sucrose. There is no difference chemically between sucrose and HFCS.

As I understand it the real problem is the fructose half of the fructose-glucose pair in sucrose. Unlike glucose, which your body uses ubiquitously for fuel, fructose is metabolized only in the liver, and excess fructose tends to become fat and have other deletrious effects on your body and liver.

Fructose in small amounts, as you might get from eating fruit, is not really a big problem. Concetrated levels of fructose, as you get in refined sugar/HFCS, can really only hurt you.

Wait, you say, what about the glucose part? That’s good right? Well … you get already all the glucose you need from breaking down the foods you eat, any additional glucose you intake will just get stored as fat.

Long story short: refined sugar (HFCS or otherwise) does not benefit you and can only hurt you.

Maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but sugar is not in fact toxic.

HFCS = Sucrose, and when you are talking about sugar you are talking about sucrose. There is no difference chemically between sucrose and HFCS.

I believe you are mistaken here.

High Fructose corn syrup is a Fructose/Glucose mix, with more Fructose than Sycrose. They basically make it by using enzymes to convert Glucose into Fructose until it reaches the appropriate mix.

While Sucrose is also made of glucose and fructose, the two molecules are bonded together (into the sucrose molecule).

However, ultimately there’s really nothing wrong with either. The problems come about if you eat way more than your body actually needs, because it’s extremely easy for your body to convert it into energy… if you consume more energy than you need, it gets turned into fat.

So the problem isn’t that soda contains HFCS rather than sugar… the problem is that people drink 20 sodas a day.

Robert Lustig claims otherwise: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html?pagewanted=all

I don’t know if it is a toxin or not, but it seems you do not really benefit from Fructose, and it can hurt you quite a lot.

I believe you are mistaken here.

Seems I am! It is as you say; HFCS is a mix of glucose and fructose, sucrose is a weakly bonded fructose/sucrose pair. Based on that I would say HFCS is worse but it’s probably largely academic; sucrose is broken down in your saliva so the two don’t metabolize particularly differently.

So the problem isn’t that soda contains HFCS rather than sugar… the problem is that people drink 20 sodas a day.

Any amount of refined sugar is basically uneccessary and potentially harmful. Of course it is a question of degree, just as it is with alcohol.

I lost 30 pounds by drastically reducing my sugar intake. Just that. That’s all I did different.

Wife did the same and lost 10. (She ain’t as big as I me, duh!)

Two groups of heavily armed men approach each other in an abandoned warehouse.

The leaders approach warily.

Leader 1: You got the stuff?
Leader 2: If you got the cash.

Two seconds come forward with briefcases. The slide them past each other.

Second 1: Yeah the cash is all here.
Second 2 (cutting open a kilo package of white powder. He tastes a bit): This is pure heroin!

Leader 2: You bastard! It’s not sugar? You trying to rip me off?

Leader 1: Kill them!

Shots ring out


The problem with obesity isn’t HFCS so much as it is all sugars and it isn’t sugars so much as it is all carbohydrates (ie the broader sugar family) and it isn’t so much carbohydrates as it is caloric totals. Each of the things mentioned is a major contributer to the next up the line - that is, the easiest way to run up calories without noticing is via carbs, the easiest way to do that is with sugars, the easiest way to do that is with fluid sugars, especially in pop.

But taking out any one of those wouldn’t keep people from getting fat. It may still be worthwhile! Sometimes public health just means making a statistical average person 3% less obese by taking away some of their daily coca-cola, and if they can pull that off, great - but analyzing it in terms of actual obesity and related health problems, focusing on sugar, or carbs, or most ludicrously at all one calorically identical type of sugar among others, is scientifically unsound.

So I’m not opposed to this, but this sort of thing is prone to a lot of half-cocked opinion about the evils of [boogie-man of the month] when the real problem is what it’s always been - people who need 2200 calories a day eating 2500-3000 calories a day. If the calories came from free-ranged vegan buddhist tofu they’d still gain a mathematically predictable amount of weight (~lb of fat per 3500 calories of surplus) and then keel over and die in their late 60s from one of the various ways abominal fat kills people.

Seeing as my youngest son has a disorder that prevents him from metabolizing fats, I can’t wait until I get to go to the local pharmacy to get him some medicinal muffins.

No, the problem is the shit’s added to almost everything (an exaggeration, but…). Salad dressings, pickles, baked beans, bread…

Essentially, rather than replacing other sugar consumption, it’s added to it.
(This is why, for example, American peanut butter tastes like shit. SWEET shit)

HFCS is a little bit measurably worse than other sugar, but nothing remotely in proportion to its flavour-of-the-month vilification. The worst thing about HFCS is that it’s sugar and the worst thing about sugar is that - in common with a few other things - it’s a super easy way to run up a huge caloric surplus. All of the “glucose cycle, how fast does it metabolize” stuff is the current hocus-pocus that distracts from the simple reality that calories in / calories out are what get you fat and getting fat is (with a few exceptions, sodium, cholestorol, gross malnutrition etc) what kills you, diet-wise.

This is (as is probably obvious) the “calories in calories out stance” as compared to more complicated ones, but honestly, I doubt there’d be any other stances if there wasn’t so much money to be made in telling people what they want to hear and that there’s some way they can get out of “count calories, eat less” austerity.

Counting calories, or meal plans which count calories for you, or diets which replicate calorie counting by another means, work, predictably. Weight loss or gain proceed predictably along with caloric surpluses or deficits, whether it’s people or lab rats. There are considerable daily fluctuations and it’s far worse to measure for women because of the menstrual cycle but eh… it just works.