I must take exception to the Los Angeles Times editorial titled “From the FDA, a mixed bag of food labels” that you reprinted in the March 2 editorial page.
This editorial displays a gross lack of knowledge of human physiology and the chemistry of sugars and is dangerously misleading when it states “All (sugars) are processed in the same way in the body; the only difference some scientists have found, is when the sugar occurs in a whole unprocessed food such as an apple.”
There is most definitely a difference between the way so called naturally occurring sugars such as fructose and “added sugars” are processed in the human body. Added sugars are either high fructose corn syrup or sucrose (cane or beet sugar).
The carbohydrate sucrose, the sugar one purchases in the store in bags and boxes — and which is added to some processed foods over and above what sugars they might otherwise naturally contain — consists of a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose chemically joined. This bond is very quickly broken down in the digestive system.
The glucose can be and is used by virtually every cell in the body. Fructose is only metabolized by the liver. And therein lies the problem. As part of that processing, during which it in essence bypasses the body’s satiety “circuitry,” it either stays in the liver as fat and — you guessed it — nonalcoholic fatty liver degeneration or is carried to a fat cell. In either case fructose leaves you hungry and fat.
It is the fiber in fruit that prevents the absorption of much of the fructose in fruits when the whole fruit is consumed. It is this fact that is “the difference” mentioned in the paragraph above. This is why it is recommended that additional sugar be specifically listed. We simply do not need additional sucrose or high fructose corn syrup in our diets.
L.T. King, M.D.
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