This was a fun read.
A study published recently (August, 2012) in Nutrition Journal called “The effects of four hypocaloric diets containing different levels of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup on weight loss and related parameters” made some conclusions about sugar consumption and weight loss.
If you don’t know what “hypocaloric” means, it means “low-calorie.” The study took different groups of overweight-to-obese people and placed them on diets containing levels of sugar (sucrose) or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) in levels of 10-20% of their total caloric intake, and ensured that all groups achieved a caloric deficit of about 300 calories per day. Every group, including the control group, was also put on an exercise program.
And what happened?
Short answer: everyone lost body fat.
I didn’t need to read the article to know that would happen. Come on. That’s just Personal Training 101: calories in vs. calories out–plus the bonus of thermogenetic exercise! Every trainer is taught to sell training on that concept. Burn more than you eat and you lose weight.
“What are you getting at?” you ask.
Well… this isn’t new research. It’s old. Super old. We didn’t need a controlled double-blind study to prove it. Trainers see it every day. Anyone who had ever deliberately lost weight by counting calories know this.
But if you dig deeper and look at the underlying biochemistry of sugar metabolism, it still isn’t news. No one explains it better than Dr. Robert H. Lustig. Sucrose and HFCS are almost identical in composition, and in how they behave in the body.
To be completely fair, HFCS got a very bad reputation for a while. People failed to see that it was pretty much the same as regular table sugar.
The scientists, in an effort to save the reputation of added sweeteners, state:
evidence regarding a potential positive association between sugar sweetened beverage consumption and obesity is inconsistent . Because of the metabolic nature of overweight and obesity and the complexity of the western diet, it is unlikely that a single food or food group is the primary cause. Randomized, clinical feeding trials have shown inconsistent results from testing the effects of added sugar on weight gain. Differences in study instruments and methods, population studied and study design may have contributed to these inconsistent findings.
In other words, science has a very tough time pinning down cause and effect in multi-variable situations. It can’t really. ”Causation” is exceedingly difficult to prove. But correlations are easy to demonstrate. Too easy, sometimes. This is why social context, politics, policy, money, corruption, public opinion, advertising, and everything else should always be factored into the decision-making process. Emotional intuitive (visceral) decisions shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Yes, these things get us into trouble, but so does science.
My favorite quote these days is “100% of all products recalled by the FDA were deemed ‘safe and effective’ by the FDA.” Science can be bullshit. ”Good science” is much rarer in our industry-led scientific data pool.
I have absolutely no argument with what the study concluded:
“In conclusion, similar decreases in weight and indices of adiposity are observed when overweight or obese individuals are subjected to hypocaloric diets with different prescribed levels of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup.” < (AND EXERCISE, you jerks! You left that out!)
At the bottom, I looked for conflicts of interest. Here’s what it said: “JM Rippe has received research funding from the Corn Refiners Association for the present study. The other study authors reported no competing interests.”
Ok… one guy. Big deal. And there were how many scientists?
Here they are:
Joshua Lowndes (firstname.lastname@example.org})
Diana Kawiecki (Dkawiecki@rippelifestyle.com})
Sabrina Pardo (Spardo@rippelifestyle.com})
Von Nguyen (Vnguyen@rippelifestyle.com})
Kathleen J Melanson (email@example.com})
Zhiping Yu (Zyu@rippelifestyle.com})
James M Rippe (Jrippe@rippelifestyle.com})
Wow! They all WORK FOR Mr. James M. Rippe! No conflict of interest, you say? That’s sweet.
The CORN REFINERS ASSOCIATION paid Mr. Rippe and his associates (or employees) to design a study that teaches us nothing new at all, to make HFCS look less hazardous than it is. I had such a giggle over this I thought I’d point it out to my readers.
HFCS and Sugar consumption at levels of 10-20% of a low-calorie (plus exercise) diet don’t inhibit weight loss when efforts are well-structured and executed. The introduction of HFCS didn’t make us fat, they’d like us to think. Well let me say this: the correlations are staggering.
Correlations are neat little things that help us make general decisions. Correlations should be taken with other correlations and perhaps a dose of intuition. This ads up to lifestyle change.
So keep in mind that the Corn Refiner’s Association is a lobbying group whose sole purpose is to make the public and politicians feel all warm and fuzzy about corn.
Corn. King corn. The CORNerstone of farm policy. The crop that receives the most subsidies (i.e. ‘welfare’). The crop around which our backward policies have enabled the competitive wipe-out of other corn producers. The crop around which so much GMO attention and research is hinging. The crop that is quite impossibly being directed towards “sustainable energy.”
Good old corn, you complicated SOB. I’m so glad these scientists devoted their valuable skills to the promotion of bastardized food production and processing.