Will Fizzy Drinks Soon Be 'Good For You'?
As early as next year certain fizzy drinks will be able to advertise themselves as being “good for your health” even if they are not calorie free; so long as the only sugar is ‘fructose’. The reason for this change is the new ruling from the European Food Safety Authority, the European version of the Food Standards Agency.
The EFSA has decreed that if sucrose and glucose (two other forms of sugar) are substituted by fructose, than such items would be beneficial for “the target population [of] individuals who wish to reduce their post prandial glycaemic responses” – in other words… people who want to lose weight. Clearly there are no bio chemists or endocrinologists sitting on this committee, who would never support such a claim.
For biochemists and endocrinologists, who are experts in human metabolism and in particular the operation of the hormone insulin, this does sound like madness.
Fructose may well be low GI (have a low glycaemic index score) but it does not cause the body to produce insulin and leptin – hormones required for controlling appetite, essentially the chemicals your body produces to tell you that you’re full. Fructose intake has been shown to contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain and hypertension.
The EFSA have cited two studies which apparently conclusively indicate the health benefits of fructose – both of which were carried out in the 1980s, but on close reading and in light of more recent research – these are not robust scientific support for the statement that fructose is better than glucose.
To confuse matters further, in their conclusions the EFSA Panel go on to state that high fructose intake is damaging to health, as it may give rise to dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance and visceral fat accumulation.
So why on earth would you allow a fizzy drink with fructose to be described as healthy?