A Sweetener with a Bad Rap

by Melanie Warner

New York Times, July 2, 2006


Dear Ms. Warner:

Your July 2 article, “A Sweetener with a Bad Rap,” stated the following: “Studies have shown that the human body metabolizes fructose, the sweetest of the natural sugars, in a way that may promote weight gain. Specifically, fructose does not prompt the production of certain hormones that help regulate appetite and fat storage, and it produces elevated levels of triglycerides that researchers have linked to an increased risk of heart disease.”

In order to observe the kinds of metabolic abnormalities referenced above, researchers fed fructose in excess of two-to-three times normal dietary amounts and in the absence of glucose-containing carbohydrates. When any compound (even table salt or water) is administered in sufficiently high concentrations, abnormalities of metabolism occur. No one in the world – not even teenagers – eats a diet comprised of fructose as the sole carbohydrate. Results of such experiments cannot be reliably used to predict results from fructose in the normal human diet.

According to the most authoritative estimates, fructose is typically consumed at about 9% of calories and as part of a balanced diet that contains abundant glucose. The 9% includes the fructose consumed in fruits and vegetables. There is no evidence to suggest that fructose causes metabolic abnormalities at typical consumption levels in the presence of glucose carbohydrates or as part of a balanced diet.

We ask that you publish our comments correcting misinformation in your article.