If you are overweight, don’t eat fruit

That’s what this new research found. As this Hindu news report says:

Overweight adults who consume large amounts of fructose have been found to experience alarming changes in body fat and insulin sensitivity that do not occur after eating glucose.

They meant pure fructose, the kind you get from fresh fruit and fruit juice, not high fructose corn syrup. So what the researchers are telling us is – if you are overweight, stop eating fresh fruits or drinking fruit juice.

So what does one eat (or drink) instead? Well, the research was funded by PepsiCo. So what do you think?

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20 thoughts on “If you are overweight, don’t eat fruit

  1. Patrix: You would be skeptical, right? But look at the Hindu – it has not only chosen to report this particular research, it is also prominently displaying it in the home page of its website.

    Harini Calamur: Oh yes, invaluable contribution to medical science – what would all we do without research like this πŸ˜›

  2. Lekhni:

    Chances are that Pepsi funded this research expecting either that the outcome would say ‘fructose is all virtuous and better than other sugars’ or to be able to influence the outcome. The researchers seem to have turned out to be impervious to both expectations. Which is great news.

    If you see the wording, it says ‘large amounts of fructose’. And the Pepsi defence cited is particularly lame trying to distinguish between ‘pure fructose’ and ‘high fructose’. In fact if you look at the same team’s earlier comparative work on fructose/ high fructose vs glucose, you will find they have reported that fructose/ HF seem to have a positive correlation with high blood triglyceride levels (not a good thing) while glucose does not. This research is not inconsistent with that either.

    So in all fairness, the research does make Pepsi look like plonkers, no matter how much their PR tries to colour this one.

    So in answer to your question: I would say hurray for fearless researchers. (I also want to coax myself to start feeding my Obesity Headlines blog again where I reviewed headline news about research by reading research in detail and debunking reportage in popular media…)

  3. Oh and forgot to add: the researchers are not telling you to stop eating fruit. They are saying in ‘overweight adults’, ‘large amounts of fructose’ is not a good thing. I could not find the original paper so cannot comment on how they define large amounts. In nutrition science, if you drink 1 litre of fruit juice a day, it still counts as 1 portion of fruit. But you would have got a truck load of sugar anyway. Highly avoidable whatever lens one wishes to look at it through.

    In other words, overweight people, who do not wish to become obese or see wild fluctuations in their insulin level, should try not to get sugar highs from fruit (and by implication that they rather choose other options for their carb needs).

    It is not the science that is defective, it is the reportage.

    Also in the US, the dietary guidelines, although highly negotiated outcomes, are very detailed; handbooks produced by HHS – about which sadly few Americans know – are very helpful to those who do not wish to ‘interpret’ the pyramid.

  4. The four or five portions of fresh fruit I eat every day at different times (sans syrup) are one high point of my day. And no cooking needed.
    I have heard that diabetics have to be careful even with fruit, and learn about which ones are safer.

  5. heck one thing i have learnt about life after working in marketing for years is dont believe ANYTHING you read. MR included. everything can be viewed through convinent ‘lenses’. ( Thats part of the reason for my name incidentally). i started my career in market research, and was so disillusioned that i couldnt stick in it as an industry.

  6. Shefaly: I agree the reporting is atrocious – we don’t know what “large amounts” the test volunteers consumed, which fruits specifically and so on. I don’t even know why they tried to research the effects of pure fructose in the first place – I mean, which overweight person eats large amounts of fruits in the first place? High fructose corn syrup would be a much likelier culprit.

    But this is what I take away from the study – if you are overweight and are really hungry, DON’T eat too many fruits. It’s much better to eat two large packets of Frito-Lay’s Potato Chips. The large amounts of carbohydrates will give you glucose, which is a good sugar. Fruits contain fructose, which is a bad sugar. Repeat after me – Lay’s chips – good sugar; Fruits – bad sugar πŸ˜‰

    Candadai Tirumalai: Yes, I believe bananas, grapes and mangoes are out, right? One can console oneself that the varieties of banana and mango you get in the US are nowhere near as tasty as those in India.

    A Cynic in Wonderland: I agree. There are so many ways that MR can go wrong (and the US elections are showing that to me every day). I am not sure if it is the quality of research that has suffered with increasing commercialization, or has the quality of reporting declined, or is it a combination of both? How come newspapers are so credulous in their reporting?

    km: That’s true, and it was not even eaten in large quantities. A single apple was enough..maybe it contained extra strength fructose.

  7. Pepsico wants to make the obese person more obese by this research πŸ˜€

    The link mentions-Pure fructose is found in fresh fruit, fruit juice and preserves. But much of it sneaks into our diets though high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soft drinks – which gets broken down into 55 per cent fructose and 45 per cent glucose in the body – or via sucrose (ordinary sugar), which is broken down into the same two sugars. I don’t understand this. How can they say both are same?

  8. @ Lekhni: I notice the wink πŸ™‚

    Although Indira Nooyi is recently on record saying ‘healthy eating’ is her passion; either safe to say she does not eat her own company’s product or if I were to be uncharitable, I think she really believes they are healthy and oh, how it shows! πŸ˜‰

    Unrelated: I have some questions re hosting one’s own blog. They are pretty silly ones. Can I mail you? Thanks.

    @ A Cynic in Wonderland: On your views in marketing, an endorsement from none other than Seth Godin, a product of marketing who says all marketing is advocacy.

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/07/the-statesman-t.html

  9. Manasa: It is very convenient, isn’t it, that they chose not to study the effects of high fructose corn syrup at all? Or sucrose, for that matter, which is the sweetening agent generally used outside the US?

    Shefaly: Indra Nooyi probably drinks lots of Aquafina πŸ˜€
    You are welcome to email me with your hosting questions. I only hope I know enough to answer them.

  10. Lol, and here I was last night watching Stephen Colbert berate the Cookie Monster for flip-flopping and saying that kids should eat more fruit.

  11. Wow. What an eye opener. They don’t outwardly suggest anything but ultimately what are the people to believe? They usually deduce the converse that ‘don’t eat fruits with high fructose if you don’t wanna get obese’ or ‘if you eat fruits with high fructose then you get obese’. Misleading. Yeah different reactions from different people. But thanks to the research, I have deduced one of the above and am gonna consume fruits everyday to gain some. πŸ™‚

  12. So, in a nutshell:

    If you are obese :Reduce fruit and soda intake.
    If you are not: it’s OK to eat whatever you like till you become obese.

    I fall in the latter category πŸ˜‰

    (full disclosure: I am a fruit and chocolate fan, but hate soda with a passion. Also, I prefer plain old tap water to Aquafina or Dasani.)

  13. Humpf 😐
    You know what I feel ? With so much of dieting rules of “dont eat this ” and “dont drink that” with this one added ; they are thinking people might shed down those few extra kgs. πŸ˜€
    All for a good cause you know !! πŸ˜‰
    Under beneath hidden promotions of “Aquafine, Pepsi zero, and other blah blah” are suppose to be ignored. πŸ™‚

  14. Doesn’t this study seem a little vague? Why even give it a second thought. Yeah, I agree studies are B.S! Didn’t they do a study of studies a few years back and concluded that more than half were false anyway? Just make up your own mind about what’s good and bad. I can’t see a perfectly natural fruit that has been in our diet since our creation being a bad thing to eat.

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