Stealth Calories

By Sally Squires

Washington Post, February 6, 2007


Dear Ms. Squires:

The Calorie Control Council is an international association representing the “light” food and beverage industry, including companies that make and use fructose. We are writing to clarify information provided in your February 6 article, “Stealth Calories.”

In reporting the effect of fructose on insulin, leptin and ghrelin, you acknowledge the criticism of these studies based on the use of pure fructose but fail to mention that in addition, excessive levels of fructose were tested. Such prejudicial conditions are well known to provoke metabolic disturbances and do not reflect the diet of anyone on Earth. Even habitual abusers of sweeteners consume equal amounts of glucose and fructose. The combination of glucose and fructose together has been shown to temper the metabolic extremes of either alone, yielding a normal and stable metabolic response. The University of Rhode Island study confirms that this combination of equal amounts of fructose and glucose, whether from sucrose or HFCS (or, indeed, from honey, fruit or fruit juices), has an equivalent effect on blood sugar, appetite hormones and hunger.

You appear to present the lack of effect of fructose on insulin as if it were a liability, while this very property has been cited as a metabolic asset. Fructose has the lowest glycemic index of any nutritive sweetener; it contributes significantly to the attainment of a low glycemic dietary response deemed important by many scientists in controlling obesity and diabetes.


Fructose has only been shown to promote fat synthesis under the un-physiological conditions of extreme concentration and isolation as the only dietary carbohydrate. Fructose has been a part of the human diet since man’s earliest days; our metabolism is designed to handle it from all sources as a matter of course. Excessive quantities of any food substance – whether sweetener, starch, protein, fat or alcohol – challenge the body’s metabolic capacity. It is under these conditions of dietary excess that fat production takes place – from whatever food substance(s) is contributing the excess calories. Fructose is a healthy and natural component of the human diet when consumed in responsible amounts

The research results on fructose are not equivocal. The research clearly shows that fructose consumed with glucose – as it is in the human diet – does not cause metabolic upset. Even Barry Popkin and other well-publicized critics of fructose and HFCS substantially retreated from their position that these sugars are uniquely responsible for obesity when interviewed for a New York Times article last June.