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Science vs the Fructose/HFCS Conspiracy


Hey guys, this topic came up recently on an Australian Dietitians mailing list and I thought some of you might be interested in it. It relates to a book called â??Sweet Poison â?? Why Sugar is Making Us Fatâ?? by David Gillespie and from what I can gather (I havenâ??t read it) talks about the evils of Fructose â?? which no doubt also paralleled by the High Fructose Corn Syrup debate that rages in the US.

David Gillespie was featured on a Science Radio Show in Australia and gave a short synopsis of the book in a story which you can listen to via this link http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2009/2621415.htm. In short, it sounds like he believes that fructose is the sole source of many modern diseases (and so is high fructose corn syrup - even though it is almost identical to sucrose!!)

Like so many other pseudoscientists and conspiracy theorists, when you listen to their argument, it seems logical and simple, but itâ??s not until you start looking beyond their claims and simple solutions for complex problems that you find the real story. It seems from this interviews that Mr Gillespie would have you think that the rise in sugar intake and obesity is directly and wholly related (it seems that he doesnâ??t believe in exercise) heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Also like most conspiracies, he links them in with other conspiracies â?? Big Pharma.

I must admit that when I heard that this guy was a lawyer, my BS detector went off. Lawyers, like salespeople, make a living out of presenting evidence to support their claim. This is the opposite of science, where the evidence should first determine the claim that you are going to make! As an aside, another Fitness Guru celebrates the fact that he finds out what works first and then finds the evidence to support it â?? but you can CHEK in for a discussion about him another time!

So before you jump on the Fructose and HFCS bandwagon, seemingly compelled by the evidence and studies that Mr Gillespie quotes, a qualified Dietitian â?? Chris Forbes-Ewan looks at ALL of the evidence, no cherry picking here (pun intended!). Here is Chrisâ?? response on the same radio program a few months later, called â??Is Fructose The Root of All Evil?â?? (you can also listen/download or see a transcript at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2010/2770728.htm).

Interestingly, Chris doesnâ??t discount everything that Mr Gillespie says, but says that it isnâ??t that simple, nor do we have all of the answers! He also looks beyond the abstracts, critiquing the studies, Gillespie references and also putting them into context with the larger body of research!

Chris has also gone directly after Gillespie on his blog (which is at http://www.raisin-hell.com) posing a number of questions, that at the time of writing has gone unanswered (although he has managed a few sledges and more conspiracy theories cast at Chris)! Iâ??m not quite sure that Gillespie has been dishonest in presenting his theories, but we will soon know, since Chris has pointed out the errors in his work. Hopefully Gillespie isnâ??t so married to his theory and has the same vested interest that he claims Big Sugar and Big Pharma have, and will modify his stance in the face of ALL of the evidence!

Check out the info, it is a great example in why people (especially when you step out of your area of expertise) shouldnâ??t get one source (backed with (some) research) and then think that they are an expert â?? despite how logical and obvious it seems and how much anecdotal evidence also supports (eg it worked for me and my friends)! This can equally be applied for numerous diets (Mediterranean, French, Metabolic type etc) and other topics like barefoot running.


David Driscoll
Exercise Physiologist, Sports Scientist and Sports Dietitian.


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Do a search in google for "Science vs the Fructose/HFCS Conspiracy" and it seems like this same person is posting the same post all over this forums. One must ask the question why?


He works for the corn industry.


Just spreading the word! Just send out multiple posts about a back pain symposium this year across the world - are you suggesting a conspiracy by Big Pharma??


I see on another forum that you avoided a question regarding HFCS and GMO.

Can you comment on this and do you think that is there any dangers to consuming GMO (which HFCS is).


I actually stopped conversing with a guy who first said that I should look at the biochemistry on HFCS and sucrose not being the same, but when asked to show me where to find it, I was told in any textbook.

I provided several references from different journals supporting that tthey were the same which he ignored. In other posts I saw the same person talk about reading the science yet not giving actual scientific references, just links to general webpages and books.

The guy seemed like a conspiracy theorist on everything from GMO, vaccines, fluoride, Big Pharma etc etc so I thought it was a waste of time discussing the topic further since he wasn't responding to my supplying references.

I'm happy to be shown to be wrong and change my mind if presented with enough quality evidence - he provided none, so I ended it. Wouldn't it be fair to assume the same thing would happen if we discussed GMO? Plus I haven't done much reading on it and therefore wouldn't be able to give a valid opinion?


Wouldn't it make sense to research GMO before saying that HFCS was not unhealthy considering all HFCS is GMO.

Have you read the book Seeds of Deception? This is a good book to start your research before you get into looking at the studies.


None of Gillespies arguements in the interview related to GMO, so can't see why it should be addressed. The issue was him cherry-picking research to support his views


I see on the post you are a dietitian. Do you tell your patients that it is ok to consume HFCS? Also what would you do if a patient asked you about GMO?

Don't you think being a dietitian you should already know thins information considering the percentage already in the marketplace?


Priorities, reduce sugar intake - not sugar is cause of all evils and thus must be totally avoided. If someone asked about GMO I would research it (and not just read a book or two)! None of this is all or nothing.

What journal articles have you followed up on GMO food? Or have you just taken the authors word for it (which was the reason for the initial post). Could you suggest a few general journal articles that I could start with please?

My advice - order of priority! For people seeking weight loss, where would you tell them to avoid GMO food? Would you start with eating less calories. If people cant eat 2 fruits and five veg or get enough exercise - I wouldn't bother with GMO advice or finer points of core activation

Since journals and conferences don't cover this in terms of importance for nutrition - none of my peers are talking about it and researchers don't come and talk to us about it, i don't spend any time on it. How else would I prioritse all of the theories that exist?

Research might come, I might be proven wrong, but I don't buy into that everything is paid for by big pharma thus i can't trust any science, journals or high ranking researchers. When they present the research, I'll jump on board. I may jump on late, but it hellps me getting on the wrong bus too! The system may not be perfect, its the best we have


I guess you have not read the book because it provides 100's of references to journals and studies that you could follow up with.

Just research it the same as if a patient ask you about GMO. What would you do?


I thought you could help with a few key references? Which were the most convincing ones for you? I'd start by asking colleagues what they knew, and for any good peer reviewed references - saving myself some legwork


I liked this video. It's a long video but worth the watch IMO.


Wouldn't all the references in the book be a good place to start.

Also knowing the actual history behind GMO would also serve it's place in your investigation.

In google aline you can pull up a ton of studies including Monsanto's own studies showing dangers yet they chose to ignore.


Something I can't understand though. If you are a dietitian then why would you support something that you have not fully studied. Are you just as bad as those you attempt to discredit for the same reason? This is a real question and not a personal attack.


David Driscoll I'm afraid you might be coming across as just another attention seeker, and reading another forum you resort to name calling when challenged on your views.This Speaks volumes you know despite all your sports/health accreditations calling people names and avoiding the GMO issue when asked goes down in my books as highly unprofessional.


Posted at another forum

"Sucrose is made up of 50/50 fructose/glucose where as HFCS is around 55% fructose and 45% glucose.

Sucrose is made from cane sugar or beet sugar where as HFCS is a combination of corn syrup that has undergone enzymatic processing and pure corn syrup.

Fructose molecules in high-fructose corn syrup are free and unbound where as fructose molecule in sucrose is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule."

I think this answers some of the questions in regards to the differences between sucrose and HFCS when you had stated they were almost identical.


Thanks for response and the effort of finding the resource, I understand the difference in the initial product, but the science suggests that once the sucrase enzyme splits sucrose into glucose and fructose - it is essentially the same, and thus by the time it is absorbed into the body - it is basically the same. http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/443/csaph3a08-summary.pdf


This is the guy that Alan Aragon took apart