This week in Things Were Sort Of Obvious, scientists have proven that fructose can trigger the brain into overeating. The study doesn’t prove that high-fructose corn syrup causes obesity, but it suggests that it plays a role.
Scientists tracked blood flow in the brains of 20 young people with normal weights before and after having a drink with glucose or fructose. It showed that after drinking a sugary drink, your brain doesn’t log the feeling of being full, so you might end up eating more than you need or really want.
One more nail in the coffin of the extra-large Coke.
The trouble with these studies is that they don’t actually provide any revealing information. The science is still unclear on whether high-fructose is worse than “real” sugar, and weight gain/loss is a tricky beast to decipher.
In fact, it often leads to all-out bans on risky products, like the one imposed by the city of New York last fall when they banned those super-sized sodas. (You can still get a burger served between a couple donuts but if you want a bigger Sprite, you’ll just need to buy two.)
And the debate over sugar is so confused, it’s not clear who’s at fault. High-fructose is either the worst thing you can have in your diet or it’s not nearly as bad as it seems. This is only complicated further by how political the corn-economy is in North America. Agriculturally speaking, corn is still king.
Still, the first push is usually to legislate something that’s unhealthy. The harder, but smarter route would be to educate children at an early age about how to eat in moderation. A little fructose won’t kill you, neither will a fizzy drink now and then, but a lot will. Taking it all away won’t force people into making better decisions—it’ll just force them into finding more creative ways to kill themselves.
Why else would bath salts exist otherwise?
Health studies like these rarely prove anything new. We all knew high-fructose was bad for us, we knew it made us gain weight, we knew we shouldn’t drink it. What we actually need are solutions for how to get our kids to drink more water and less sugar, and how we can provide better options.
Canada’s trans-fat ban was a success indeed, ever since the early aughts. And yet, obesity rates amongst children are still steady.
Sometimes you can’t tell everyone what to do, even when you know what’s good for them.