Letter to the Editor

‘Sugar study’ studied fructose, not sugar

Matt Rourke/Associated Press - The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 rejected the Corn Refiners Association's bid to rename its sweetening agent "corn sugar." The FDA said that it defines sugar as a solid, dried and crystallized food — not a syrup.

The Aug. 13 news article “Modest amount of sugar toxic to mice” overlooked the important fact that the mice in this study were not fed natural sugar.

Characterizing this research as a “sugar study” was misleading because the mice weren’t given natural (table) sugar. According to the authors, “To mimic existing sources of added sugar, we selected a diet containing fructose and glucose monosaccharides in a one to one ratio, approximating the 55:42 and 42:53 ratios found in the two common forms of HFCS [high fructose corn syrup].” The significance of this is that the glucose and fructose in sugar (sucrose) are naturally bonded together, unlike in HFCS, which contains free fructose. Real sugar and HFCS are molecularly different, but they often are lumped together. Only sucrose is sugar.

Finally, though the article does address the fact that the researchers pointed out “added sugars” in the American diet have increased primarily because of the higher consumption of HFCS, it failed to connect the dots in a meaningful way for consumers. Americans are not eating more sugar; they are eating more HFCS. Consumption of real sugar has decreased by 35 percent in the past 42 years, and more than 90 percent of caloric, sweetened beverages in the United States are sweetened with HFCS, not sugar.

Andrew Briscoe III, Washington

The writer is president and CEO of the Sugar Association.

 
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