Striving For A Balanced Diet & The Truth About Sweeteners

October 1, 2012

As I mentioned the other day, over the summer I taped a segment about sweeteners and healthy diets for The Balancing Act. Here are some of the key points I made during the segment:

  • When people ask me how they can eat more healthfully, I tell them to focus on three things – variety, moderation, and balance. You can read more about these basic principles here.
  • High fructose corn syrup is nutritionally equivalent to table sugar. The two sweeteners have the same number of calories per gram and are equal in sweetness. It’s a misconception that HFCS is high in fructose.
  • Obesity is a complex issue and its rise over the past 35 years is a result of multiple factors – genetics, increased daily calorie intake, lack of physical activity. No single food or ingredient can be blamed for weight gain. 
  • Parents, teachers, and other caregivers need to role model healthy eating habits and behaviors for children.
  • Children can enjoy sweets in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. There are many nutrient-rich foods with added sweeteners, including flavored milk, high fiber cereals, and crackers. And of course seasonal fresh fruit is a great snack option for children craving something sweet.

If you missed the show, you can watch it here: 

Disclaimer: I am a consultant to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA); however, all statements and opinions are my own.


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    1. Gregory, I have seen the video you posted and I think you may be interested in this blog post from fellow health and nutrition writer, David DeSpain. In it, he links to presentations from the ASN Experimental Bio symposium Sugar Showdown debate in which a scientific panel, including Lustig, presented on the topic of sugars. The debate was a little more balanced than the YouTube video you posted.

  1. It’s a misconception that High Fructose Corn Syrup is high in fructose? Hmmmmm……

    I think your disclaimer says it all.

    1. Beedee, the breakdown of sucrose (table sugar) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. High fructose corn syrup, at most is 45% glucose and 55% fructose. Dr. David Katz put it best when he wrote the following:

      “The notion that a 5 percent differential in fructose content has much of anything to do with current public health ills is more than a little far-fetched. The net effect of sugar excess is detrimental, no matter the sugar.” (From “Perils of a Sugar-Coated Scapegoat,” Huffington Post, 6/4/2012)