Annals of Health Law
HOW TO REGULATE TOXIC FOODS
Although health risks associated with sugar consumption have been
discussed for a number of years, 32 the biochemical process that occurs when
we consume sugar has received recent attention largely due to a lecture by
Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of Pediatrics at the University of California
at San Francisco. 33 In his lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, Dr. Lustig
distinguishes between glucose, which is not particularly harmful, and
fructose, which is. 34 Table sugar, or sucrose, is comprised of fifty percent
glucose and fifty percent fructose. 35 High fructose corn syrup, which is
sweeter than sugar, is comprised of fifty-five percent fructose and forty-five
percent glucose. 36 Because of the relative similarity in the proportion of
glucose to fructose in both sugar and high fructose corn syrup, Dr. Lustig
considers them to be equally harmful. 37
Dr. Lustig explains the biochemical difference between consuming 120
calories of glucose versus 120 calories of sucrose. When we consume
glucose by eating white bread38 all the organs of the body use eighty percent
of the calories with only twenty percent ( 24 calories) being processed by the
liver. 39 Conversely, when we consume 120 calories of sucrose (sugar) by
consuming a glass of orange juice, for example, we are consuming equal
32. See e.g.,YUDKIN, supra note 8; Xiason Ouyang, et al., Fructose Consumption as a
Risk Factor for Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, 48 J. HEPATOLOGY 993 (June 2008)
(Study found that patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease consumed 2-3 times as much
fructose as control subjects.); Richard J. Johnson, et al., Potential Role of Sugar Fructose) in
the Epidemic of Hypertension, Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Kidney
Disease, and Cardiovascular Disease; 86 AMER. J. CLINICAL NUTRITION, 899, 904 (2007)
(“[W]e propose that sugar intake, and particularly that of fructose, may have an important
participatory role in the current cardiorenal disease epidemic,” because it raises uric acid
levels.”); Vasanti S. Malik et al., Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes
Mellitus, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk, 121 CIRC. AMER. HEART ASS’N J. 1356 (2010),
available at http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/121/11/1356.full#sec-9 (“SSB intake is a
significant contributor to weight gain and can lead to increased risk of T2DM and
cardiovascular disease.”); E.M. ABRAHAMSON, BODY, MIND & SUGAR (1951).
33. Dr. Lustig’s lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, was posted on You Tube and has been
viewed more than 2 million times. Robert H. Lustig, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, YOUTUBE.COM
(July 30, 2009), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM [hereinafter Lustig
lecture]. This lecture is relied upon heavily by reporter Gary Taubes, in Is Sugar Toxic?
supra note 1.
34. Lustig lecture, supra note 33.
36. NESTLE, supra note 28, at 318; Taubes, supra note 1.
37. QUINN, supra note 31, at 43; NESTLE, supra note 28, at 318; see also Taubes, supra
note 1 (noting that Luc Tappy, a researcher at University of Lausanne in Switzerland and one
of the world’s foremost experts on high fructose corn syrup, has stated that there is “not the
single hint” that it is more dangerous than “other sources of sugar.”).
38. Other carbohydrates that contain glucose include potatoes.