Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Medical Controversy: Fructose Followup...

On Monday I wrote about a video where Dr. Robert Lustig talked about the link between fructose and obesity. The video certainly made the rounds and was used as a call to arms.

For some the call was to blunt Dr. Lustig's call to arms. Alan Aragorn wrote the bitter truth about fructose alarmism. The article simultaneously commends Dr. Lustig when his research and numbers hold up to scrutiny and pokes holes into Dr. Lustig's folly when the research doesn't match his statements. Who's right? Dr. Lustig? Alan Aragorn? Both? This is one of the cases where they may both make valid points and so neither may be completely wrong. Welcome to the world of scientific controversies.

Regardless of whether the scientific community is completely onboard with Dr. Lustig or whether the jury is still out there is the beginning of a backlash against fructose. Companies are moving away from using fructose sweeteners mainly due to the new bad publicity. The public at large has discovered the controversy over fructose and run with it. From Facebook groups to online activism the anti-fructose movement has begun in force. Even before the science is settled people are reacting to the latest reason why they aren't slim.

Meanwhile the science goes on. It's easy to predict what will happen next. As each new study about fructose comes along people on both sides of the argument will be looking for the single smoking gun that proves their side of the controversy. Each fat rat will cause activists to scream for changes to the food supply. Every discovery of other reasons creatures gain weight will be used to try and vindicate the producers of fructose who are beset by enemies from all sides. New products will be formulated and sold (how long until 'fructose-free' is on packages as often as 'fat-free'?). People will publish books guaranteeing weight loss if you fructose. And over time something else will be implicated as science moves forward and keeps digging into obesity.

What I can't predict is whether people will become more obese over time or whether we'll finally figure out how to handle this epidemic.

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