News

Children’s Obesity Study – Fructose vs Starch – Almost got it right….

Posted by -- November 6, 2015

fructose vs starch

by: Jonathan Wright

November 6, 2015

Researchers from UCSF and Touro University recently published a study on the effects of restricting the daily intake of “fructose” in the diets of 43 children at the Obesity clinic at UCSF, replacing it with starches. The question was to determine whether sweeteners (fructose/sugar) or calories (Starches) were truly the problem when it came to obesity and diabetes. “We replaced virtually every aspect of their metabolic syndrome,” said Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, San Francisco and lead author of the study.

Dr Lustig currently maintains that both sugar and HFCS are processed by the body in the same way and therefore uses the terms interchangeably. The problem with that is it goes against his sworn affidavit to the United States District Court Western District of New York dated September 2013 where he clearly states: “Sucrose (Sugar) and HFCS have different metabolic effects including that the fructose content of HFCS-55, HFCS 65, HFCS 90 and Crystalline Fructose is higher than that in sucrose which is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose” (Citizens for Health has petitioned the FDA to change the HFCS labeling system so that it identifies the fructose level of the HFCS i.e. – HFCS 55 contains 55% fructose, HFCS 65 contains 65% fructose, etc.)

Dr. Lustig makes two points about the fundamental difference between sucrose (sugar) and HFCS in his court affidavit. One, the fructose in sugar is bound differently than the fructose in HFCS. Two, the amounts of fructose in HFCS significantly exceed the amounts of fructose in sugar. These differences make all the difference in the world. This means, he states in his affidavit, “…fructose from HFCS is metabolized differently from sugar (sucrose) and because the percentage of fructose in some foods containing HFCS have been shown in peer reviewed studies to exceed 65%, HFCS is clearly a significant factor in increased dietary food and energy (caloric) intake in the population.”

We are totally with Dr. Lustig when he laments the drinking of caloric sodas -95% of which are sweetened with HFCS- and which Dr Lustig also calls out in his affidavit, “Coca Cola, Sprite and Pepsi contained on average 64-65% fructose.” In this recent study Dr Lustig and his team found that reducing the intake of sweeteners from 28% to 10% of the children’s diets, while still on a heavily processed diet, lead to a reduction in insulin levels within 10 days. This is not exactly news to Dr Lustig, if we refer back to the affidavit where Dr Lustig states “Since fructose is metabolized differently than glucose it can and does lead to insulin resistance.…. HFCS bypasses the insulin-driven satiety system, suppressing ‘the degree of satiety’ that would normally result from a meal of glucose or sucrose.” HFCS, unlike glucose or sucrose (sugar) he says, leads to overeating. “

Dr Lustig tries to make the case that since the insulin levels dropped and the cholesterol and lipid levels improved then ‘sugar’ must be the problem. Yet referring back to the affidavit he makes a very clear statement, “Fructose is a major cause of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.” The primary fructose he is referencing, based on the report of his study, is fructose from HFCS. That is also true of the American diet.

We support and urge the removal of HFCS from manufactured food products, including sodas, as does Dr. Lustig. We also urge the use of sucrose in moderation. We think the distinction between fructose in HFCS and in sucrose is important for consumers to make sound decision which will fulfill Dr. Lustig’s agenda to cut down disease traced to fructose. Consumers also need to know that, while sugar consumption per capita in 2009 equaled that in 1909, HFCS consumption has skyrocketed during the past thirty years the same period of time that diabetes and obesity have exploded into national epidemics. There is no place for HFCS in the diet. There is a place for sweetness. Even the children in Dr. Lustig’s study got 10% percent of their calories from “sugar”. Unfortunately we do not know, when reporting this fact, whether Dr. Lustig was talking about sucrose or HFCS.

Warning Advisory : Maltitol

Posted by -- September 27, 2015

BeFunky Design

Is Maltitol The New High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Understanding the ingredients that you are looking at is essential when checking labels. We found one that surprised us and want to bring Maltitol to your attention. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol which is similar to sugar but has fewer calories. Sounds Great right? Well…. It also comes along with a mandatory disclaimer that it will cause a “mild” laxative effect.  While Maltitol occurs naturally in chicory, the version used today is chemically produced from Corn Syrup.  Though low in calories (3 per tablespoon) it has a high glycemic value of 53 so it is not recommended for Diabetics, though according to the manufacturer, Food and Beverage conglomerate – Cargill, it is safe if consumed in moderation.  That said, a quick Google search will provide you with a number of warnings and potential side effects of Maltitol that the manufacturer does not reference; from nausea and cramping to rectal bleeding and diarrhea. According to a double blind study conducted by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 8 out of 12 participants developed diarrhea when fed Maltitol as opposed to 3 out of 12 when fed table sugar.

Interestingly a number of Diabetic websites claim Maltitol is safe for diabetics because of its Low carb ratio (but it’s still a Carb) and “sugar free” labeling. Other sites will caution you that the high Glycemic index of Maltitol will spike insulin levels which diabetics need to avoid and which also initiate the feelings of hunger and can lead to more overeating. Maltitol is considered non-digestable (Wait why are we using it in anything we consume?) so it is considered safe for the teeth as it does not promote tooth decay.

Because it is a sugar alcohol it is not classified as “sugar” so it can be used to sweeten products that are advertised as “Sugar Free”. Maltitol is used in a huge range of sugar free sweets including: candy, cough drops, chewing gum, chocolate, ice cream, baked goods and supplements. It is also used in “low carb” breads and food items as well as in many of the Atkins diet products. It is also used as the coating on hard candy as well as in medicine, as a pill coating, and in personal care products like Moisturizers. Many of the Food products containing Maltitol, such as Pillsbury Sugar Free Moist supreme Cake mixes, prominently feature a warning: Disclaimer Text: Excess Consumption may cause a laxative effect (Due to Maltitol). Recently one of FIT’s Staff purchased a Cherry Pie from a local high end Natural Food store & Bakery and noticed it had a Maltitol warning disclaimer, a couple of hours after eating a small slice of the pie our staffer developed stomach cramps which lasted until mid day the next day and experienced nausea and rectal bleeding and upon reflection realized the only thing that could have caused it was the cherry pie.

At a time when many food and beverage manufacturers are removing High Fructose Corn Syrup from their products due to consumer demand, one has to question why other man-made artificial sweeteners made from corn including Maltitol and Fructose are appearing more frequently in the foods we consume.  Could this just be a way of confusing consumers and hiding unhealthy ingredients in our food supply?  Why would anyone purchase a food product that warns of side effects?

Truth in Labeling and a clear understanding of the ingredients you are looking at will help keep you and your family healthy, but perhaps a better solution is to avoid consuming anything with artificial or chemical ingredients, including Maltitol.

Yes, Honey Is Healthier Than High Fructose Corn Syrup, Another Reporter Gets It Wrong

Posted by -- September 23, 2015

In the Huffington Post article, “Honey isn’t any Healthier than Corn Syrup or regular sugar for that matter”, author Suzy Strutner skips some important science.  While Ms Strutner points out that HFCS is different from “regular sugar” and many of the recent articles about raw vs. processed honey align with her point, she overlooks important science that underscores the difference between HFCS and honey.

While Ms Strutner is correct that the chemical compounds of HFCS, Sucrose (table sugar) and Honey are all chemically similar (though not identical) they differ widely in how the body processes them and what they contribute to the body.  Table sugar is about a 50/50 split of fructose and glucose, Honey is generally 30% glucose, 40% fructose with the rest made up of water, other sugar types and dextrin (a type of starchy fiber), HFCS roughly contains 55% fructose and 42% glucose. However, when you consume table sugar the body uses enzymes to break down the fructose and glucose bond and processes them thru the liver stimulating insulin which triggers the release of a hormone called Leptin signaling the body that it is full. Due to the un-bonded nature of the fructose and glucose in the HFCS the fructose goes straight to the liver and is ingested and stored as fat leaving you hungry regardless of the amount of food you have consumed.

In one study, at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, one group of participants was fed just fructose and they reported feeling hungry and irritable. The group fed pure glucose reported feeling full and satisfied. In another study researchers compared the effects of honey and refined fructose feeding on rats. Rats being fed fructose had raised triglycerides more than those fed honey. Those being fed fructose had decreased blood levels of vitamin E, while those being fed honey did not, suggesting less oxidative stress. Fructose also promoted more inflammation than honey.

Additionally studies suggest that Honey provides many benefits that HFCS cannot, from being an antioxidant to helping cuts and burns heal faster, easing a cough and curing a hangover. Recent research revealed that less-refined sweeteners, including honey, contain more antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds than refined table sugar. “A study published in January in the Journal of the American Dietetic Assn. showed that using less-refined sweeteners instead of white sugar could add the same amount of antioxidants found in a serving of nuts or purple fruits, but that molasses and date sugar contained the highest levels of antioxidants. Other studies have shown that the antioxidant content of honey depends on what sort of plant nectar it is made from.”

Honey contains over a hundred different compounds, not just fructose and glucose. It has a small amount of minerals, amino acids (many of which have yet to be identified and cataloged), and vitamins….It’s a Whole food by any definition and the human body was designed to process whole foods, refined food-like products, not so much. They produce different results and effects when you ingest them.  “Eating a handful of berries”says Researcher Mark Sisson “isn’t the same as sprinkling an equal amount of berry-extracted sugar in your water and drinking it”.

 

Parents Need Correct Information About Sweeteners

Posted by -- August 6, 2015

FIT Blog post Title

 

by: James S. Turner Esq.

Board Chair Citizens for Health

Author “The Chemical Feast: The Nader Report On Food Protection at the FDA”

 

In response to, “The Evidence Supports Artificial Sweeteners over Sugar” article, by pediatrics professor Aaron E. Carroll (July 27, 2015 New York Times), Dr. Carroll’s article nails one powerful point—people, especially children, should stay away from calorie containing soft drinks.  He misses an equally powerful point—the calories in these drinks come from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) not “sugar.” In 2012 FDA banned corn refiners from calling HFCS “corn sugar.” Dr. Carroll overlooks the message and calls HFCS “sugar”.  Still every study he cites shows that HFCS, not sugar, tracks soda risks.

Today per capita “sugar” consumption equals that of the 1909’s, while HFCS consumption has soared alongside soaring diabetes and obesity rates. Dr. Carroll is right–avoid caloric soft drinks and the HFCS that 95% of them contain. Dr. Carroll also misses on two artificial sweeteners.  Saccharin, removed from the list of known cancer causing chemicals in 2000, he calls safe. He fails to report that, for example, the Feingold Association worries that saccharine, a coal tar derivative, may contribute to hyperactivity in children.  “Cancer free” does not mean “shown safe.”  Additives harm in other ways. Nor does Dr. Carroll report that the Center for Science in the Public Interest questions the objectivity of the international committee that urged removing saccharin from the carcinogen list.

Even if saccharin fails to cause cancer, and we have a lot more to learn about cancer before we can be sure, saccharin studies suggest other potential risks that Dr. Carroll ignores and we need to consider. Dr. Carroll’s aspartame story leaves out even more important facts.  He says, inaccurately, “The initial studies showed that aspartame didn’t cause cancer in animals, so it was deemed safer than saccharin.”  In fact unexplained incidents of cancer in rats in initial aspartame studies led the 1980 FDA Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) to unanimously reject the new sweetener.

President elect Ronald Reagan put Donald Rumsfeld, President of the GD Searle Drug Company, aspartame’s owner, on his transition team. That team picked a Reagan appointed FDA Commissioner who consulted to the 1970s Defense Department led by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.  As his first act this commissioner overturned the PBOI, releasing aspartame, a suspect sweetener, to an unsuspecting public. Data developed since aspartame’s approval has reinforced the cancer causing potential of aspartame.

The year following its introduction to the market, glioblastomas, the type of brain tumor that turned up in the original studies and troubled the PBOI, increased 10% in the American human population.  In this context later laboratory studies suggesting a possibility of a cancer/aspartame connection heightens concern. Even if Dr. Carroll and, in the case of saccharin the international committee he relies on, made the right call on cancer and saccharin and/or aspartame that does not make these artificial sweeteners safe for children.   Dr. Carroll says “It is true that people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic disorder, need to limit their consumption of aspartame, since phenylalanine is one of its components.”  Again he is part right. At the time of the PBOI in 1980 about 30,000 Americans suffered from PKU.

Policy makers saw this as a small enough number of acutely risk aware individuals with a disease condition, screened for at birth, that they felt that a label statement offered enough public protection. In this relatively small, aware group recessive genes of both parents combine to create the PKU.  In genetic terms they are called homozygous recessive. At the same time one in 60 Americans, about fifty million, are heterozygous, one dominant and one recessive PKU gene.  The PBOI, already banning aspartame for cancer causing reasons, declined to address the possibility that the fifty million heterozygous might face a special aspartame risk. Dr. Carroll ignores the issue and stamps aspartame safe for children.

Parents need more caution. Dr. Carroll’s over arching point—data show that caloric sweeteners (95% of which are sweetened with HFCS) should be avoided—is sound.  His points about artificial sweeteners being preferable might work for him and his children but a risk averse parent might want to wait longer before rushing ahead to give their children no calorie soda.  Just because arsenic is not str

ychnine does not mean that it is safe. People, especially parents, need information about sweeteners.  For now data suggests that cane sugar, in moderation, adds up to less risk than either HFCS sweetened sodas (or other foods) or other artificial sweeteners.  Future instalments of Food Identity Theft will provide more detailed guides on how to read articles like Dr. Carroll’s and distinguish the sound information from the misguided.

Read Dr. Carroll’s article at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/upshot/the-evidence-supports-artificial-sweeteners-over-sugar.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

Trans-Fat Free: A Big Fat Lie?

Posted by -- December 13, 2011

By James J. Gormley

On October 20, 2011, the results of the second part of a two-phase study from the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board were published, Front-of-Package Nutrition Ratings Systems and Symbols: Promoting Healthier Choices, which concluded that “it is time for a move away from front-of-package systems that mostly provide nutrition information on foods or beverages but don’t give clear guidance about their healthfulness, and toward one that encourages healthier choices through simplicity, visual clarity, and the ability to convey meaning without written information.”

Although I hesitate to embrace a set of kindergarten logos or icons in lieu of more detailed information, as WebMD reported on November 28th “What you see on the front of the label is never going to be the full story. It’s still important to turn the package around and look at the Nutrition Facts panel […].”

A November study, that was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA), reported on the results of a psychological and consumer-behavior study that used an eye-tracking device to see what consumers are really looking at on labels regardless of what they say they are looking for.

Twenty percent of the 203 participants actually looked for “trans fat free,” which is a testament to consumers perspicacity yet not especially reassuring given the Houdini-esque wiggle room given food producers in the use of this label. A label is allowed to say “trans fat free” if it has less than 500 mg of trans fat per serving!

Current law requires that products with less than five grams be listed in 0.5 gram increments, and lower than 0.5 grams as containing zero grams of fat. “Meaning, if a product has 0.49 grams of trans fat, the label can list the trans fat content as zero,” noted ScienceDaily on January 3, 2011, “thus masking a significant amount of trans fat that can exceed recommended limits and potentially lead to various adverse health effects.”

In fact, a study by Eric J. Brandt in the January/February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion showed, according to ScienceDaily, that “misleading labeling practices can result in medically significant intake of harmful trans fat, despite what you read on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved labels.”

“This labeling policy may result in people thinking they are consuming foods with no trans fats, when in fact they may be consuming food that cumulatively include trans fats in excess of 1% of total dietary consumption,” says the author, who also advocates that food labeling laws should be changed to require trans fat content be labeled in 0.1-gram increments.

Despite this deceptive labeling conundrum, don’t expect immediate help from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), our country’s deceptive labeling cops, since the FTC publicly lauded the FDA’s trans fat labeling scheme in testimony before the FDA in 2002, when they said:

“We are concerned, however, that the unique treatment proposed for trans fats on the Nutrition Facts panel may suggest to consumers that there is a significant qualitative difference between saturated fats and trans fats, and such a conclusion appears to be inconsistent with current dietary advice.”

Well, guess what, FTC, there is a significant qualitative difference between trans fats and saturated fats, so it’s good that consumers can distinguish between them, questions of hidden trans fats aside momentarily.

Trans fats: lower good (HDL) cholesterol, increase levels of atherosclerosis-causing lipoprotein-(a), cause tissues to lose good omega-3 fats, interfere with insulin, increase anti-cardiovascular C-reactive protein, interere with enzymes that metabolize fats, and interfere with the functioning of the immune system, whereas saturated fats do not.

Now, mind you, I am not pointing out these differences to promote saturated fat, which we want in only very low levels in our diet, but to draw the distinction between natural saturated fats and artificial, partially hydrogenated trans fats, which are in fact, dear FTC, even worse than saturated.

All this boils down to the fact that we have to be extra-vigilant when trying to determine what the trans fat level is in our foods, even if it says trans fat free. You should check to see if there are any partially hydrogenated fats listed — if there are, then you probably want to put it back on the shelf!

It’s hard enough to eat healthfully with the deceptive food labeling that food manufacturers cook up on their own; it’s even worse when the deceptive labeling is developed by the FDA and applauded by the FTC!

Caveat comestor! Eater beware!

A Tale of Two Honeys

Posted by -- November 15, 2011

By James J. Gormley

According to tests conducted for Food Safety News, over 75 percent of the “honey” sold in U.S. grocery stores … isn’t.

Findings showed that the pollen is typically filtered out, this despite the fact that the food safety arms of the European Commission, the World Health Organization and other bodies have “ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.”

Ultra-filtration is a synthetic process which involves heating honey, sometimes watering it down, and then shooting it through filters using high pressure to remove the pollen.

According to Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA) in an interview with Food Identity Theft:

“The honey that is ultra-filtered is often synthetically produced, put in huge vats and trans-shipped so that certain countries, like China, can avoid anti-dumping laws and tariffs, by shipping to another country as an intermediary, such as India. Without the pollen, you don’t know where it came from, so anything can be put on the label.”

Jensen told Food Safety News that it is “pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law,” via the trans-shipping practice known as “honey laundering.”

In the meantime, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not seen fit to establish an official standard of identity for honey, despite the fact that occasional inspections have uncovered Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol, a powerful veterinary antibiotic that can cause permanent bone marrow and liver damage in humans.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is one of more than 20 U.S. senators and members of Congress of both parties who have repeatedly asked the FDA to create a federal “pure honey” standard, but to date these requests have fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the best bet for consumers is to seek out honey at health food stores, farmers markets, food co-ops and stores such as Trader Joe’s, one of the few stores which passed the testing with flying colors: its honey is actually honey!

A Sticky Problem

Posted by -- November 2, 2011

By James J. Gormley

Quick, take a guess: What’s the main thing missing from Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot and Fruit Gushers? Answer: fruit!

In an October 14 complaint from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed in a U.S. District Court in California, General Mills has been slapped with a proposed class action lawsuit for “misleading consumers about the nutritional and health qualities of its fruit snacks,” namely Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot and similar products.

Although the labels say these snacks are “fruit flavored,” “naturally flavored,” “a good source of vitamin C,” and low in calories, fat and gluten, according to the CSPI’s lawsuit, obscured on labels is the fact that the “so-called fruit snacks are mostly sugars (some from fruit concentrate and some from corn syrup), artificial additives and potentially harmful dyes.”

Some of the typical ingredients in these products are: partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil (trans fat anyone?); Red 40; Yellow 5; Yellow 6; Blue 1; and processed sweeteners. Not exactly whoesome nutrition.

In fact, Red 40 and Yellow 5 are made from petroleum and pose a whole range of unlabelled health risks, according to CSPI, including hyperactictivity and allergic reactions, in addition to being potentially carcinogenic. The British government and the European Union have already established regulations virtually eliminating the use of dyes such as these, not so the U.S. government.

“General Mills is basically dressing up a very cheap candy as if it were fruit and charging a premium for it,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner.

The complaint also says that the labeling of these products violates different state laws, including Minnesota’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and several California laws covering “misleading and deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices.

Any surprise that this is the same company that markets two of the unarguably least healthy kids’ cereals, Reese’s Puffs and Lucky Charms?

For General Mills’ part, it was quoted in Marketing Daily with this response to word of a suit, in part: “We stand behind our products — and we stand behind the accuracy of the labeling of those products.” Fortunately, CSPI and Citizens for Health are standing behind truth, accuracy and the health of our nation’s children.

And this is certainly not the first fake fruit story on which we have reported, to be sure; click here to read Linda Bonvie’s September 22nd post, entitled “If you are goingto make fake food, call it what it is”!