Fructose - A Debate

It doesn’t matter whether the sugar is inherent or added. Sugar is sugar and just as harmful in either case. What does matter is the fructose (fruit sugar) content. Sucrose (cane sugar) is a double molecule comprising one each of glucose and fructose molecules. Glucose is the universal energy source for all living creatures. Fructose is the villain of the piece. It is the cause of the obesity pandemic, Type 2 Diabetes, fatty liver and a string of other conditions. Information is available at or by googling fructose.
In relation to the NIPs on food, it is best to avoid anything containing more than 2% “sugars” which approximates to 1% fructose. Yoghurt is an exception as the first 4.7% is lactose (milk sugar) related and metabolises as harmless glucose. So avoid yoghurt with more than 7% “sugars”.
Also it is best to avoid low-fat foods because when the fat is removed so is the flavour, which is replaced by sugar and salt. The “sat-fat” myth was debunked years ago - when your metabolism is working well you will not take in more fat than your body needs at the time. Mainstream medicine is loath to ignore “best practice” for fear of litigation. But GPs are slowly coming round to weaning patients off sugar which will automatically solve their “fat” problems.
John Neilson


The most important thing about “sugar” is what type of sugar it is.
Cane sugar (and similar sugars) are usually about 50% fructose and 50% glucose and should not be eaten.
FRUCTOSE is the really bad one as the body can only deal with it the same way that it deals with alchohol. It is basically a poison, however 2 pieces of fruit in its raw form is OK.
Dextrose/Glucose is OK
Lactose is OK (unless you are Lactose intollerent)
Galactose is OK
ALL others are not OK, this includes the alchohol sugars which are converted immediately to bad sugars.

It is time that all food shows the amount AND type of sugar contained in it. No processed food should contain anything but Dextrose/Glucose, Lactose & Galactose.

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Do you have some evidence that you can point is to?


Here is the evidence about FRUCTOSE being a poison and addictive.

The YouTube video is gripping; you will never think good thoughts about fructose again.


Thanks, but no, I mean research - you know, published peer reviewed scientific literature that supports his position.


The dau-in-law (a diet tragic) is presently devouring a number of “sugar is poison” books. Unfortunately the science behind them goes from so-so to highly suspect. At present the only vegetables the family is allowed are cauliflower & broccoli, no fruit, or bread, but a lot of animal fat (think bacon fat cooked with the bacon discarded as it contains sugar), yet somehow milk chocolate and shortbread biscuits are OK, because of the “good fat” content. A bit uneducated and not up with critical thinking or reading labels. The g-child is cadging iced donuts and softdrinks off the baby sitter, hubby is filling up on meat pies.

I am pretty well educated on nutrition, but I can’t hold a candle to these books, magazines, celebrity endorsements, chat shows, party plans etc which is what she trusts to get her information. Paleo, Blood Type, no carbs / keytosis, detox, juice only, eggs all day; - I am dreading her discovering the Acid/Alkaline or potato only diets. Somehow we need to push the real SCIENCE behind sugar for the masses. The most persuasive is the teaspoon - would you eat/drink 16 teaspoons of sugar? That’s what’s in this. This is what it does.


We MUST distinguish between the different types of sugars.

A glass of fresh orange juice or apple juice is just as bad as a can of Coke, yet there is no “added sugar” in a glass of fresh orange juice or apple juice. To get a glass of apple juice you need 3 apples which you can drink easily, yet if you try to eat 3 apples you really know about it. This is because juicing the apple breaks it up sending the wrong signals to the brain. Worse still, the fructose in the glass of apple juice hits the digestive system with a whallop and is then processed by the body in the same way that alchohol (methanol) is. This is then stored as fat. Glucose (Dextrose ), Lactose and Galactose are not processed by the body in this way, in fact Glucose is the building block of life on earth.

What people often call “sugar” is Sucrose (50% Fructose 50% Glucose), and the other “sugar” is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which usually has 55% Fructose 45% Glucose. Fructose is a poison and any food with either Sucrose of HFCS is bad for you.

The other important thing to remember that the “Calories” supplied by Fructose and Glucose are processed by the body differently; thus 100 calories of fructose is completely different to 100 calories of glucose. All calories are NOT the same.

The statement quoted by CHOICE above " that naturally occurring sugars and added sugars have the same physiological impact, but note the difference is significant when considering dietary quality." is not correct and is not supported by the science. This is because they are not differenciating between the different types of sugar. It is a bit like saying “fuel” without mentioning that there is a difference between petrol and diesel, and also failing to mention that if you put diesel into a petrol car you will cause serious damage to the car. The same problem exists with fructose; putting fructose into a human will (over time) seriously damage you; the human body is designed to run on GLUCOSE.

CHOICE staff, please loby for the quantity AND THE TYPE of sugars to be included on the labelling of all processed food.

This video is the follow-on from the previous one

This video is a more recent TEDx talk

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Hi All,
Thanks for starting this discussion on the CHOICE Community. I’ve moved the issue of fructose to this new thread so we can discuss it in more detail, and we welcome others to contribute their experiences and rationale too. Just a note, any personal attacks will be removed as this is a forum for meaningful debate, which means evidence-based discussions and mutually respectful dialogue. We would also encourage all participants to keep an open mind and consider any new evidence presented to them.

I want to address some points and if I’ve made an error please feel free to let me know. The first is that removing sugar from a person’s diet will automatically solve all weight problems. Health issues relating to obesity are complex, and we also respect this is a sensitive area for many people. Community members are welcome to share their experiences, but please see a doctor if you are undergoing any health issues.

Claiming that sugar or fructose is a poison certainly evokes a strong response, but it’s important to recognise that dosage and context determine what is poisonous and harmful to human health. Seeing as fruits and berries contain fructose and have likely been a part of our diet since the start of human history, the simplified claim that fructose is a poison is far more beneficial to book marketing than it is to making an accurate statement about a potential health problem.

That’s not to disregard the work by key anti-fructose scientists like UCLA’s Robert Lustig (and thank you @jepc for the video links). However, contrary to that top-line message, in his book and also on radio interviews and podcasts online Lustig himself has indicated “the ‘likely’ safe dose of fructose is 50 grams per day”, as is also reported in the Washington Post. As already noted, fructose makes up about half of most sugars we consume, so Lustig’s advice corresponded with other health organisations at the time that were recommending 95 grams per day. The WHO has since revised this amount to ‘no more than 55 grams’ total sugar per day (fructose is not distinguished).

If you want to delve into the scientific debate on fructose, there are reviews and meta-analysis that encompass hundreds of credible and reputable studies. Here’s a selection from 2010, 2012 and 2016. In the interests of saving time, I’d encourage Community members to link to credible studies to back up their arguments and to share your personal experiences. Also, here’s a well-referenced report from the Scientific American that covers both sides of the argument (and is a little less dry).

The one thing that all scientists agree upon is that we need to be careful about how much sugar we consume, so the next time you see a can of soda, back away slowly! You can also keep your eye out for more work from CHOICE in this important area, as we work to make it easier for consumers to identify added sugar in all its guises.


It shouldn’t. There are three possibilities:

  • Evidence shows that it’s true;

  • Evidence shows that it’s not true; or

  • Evidence is contradictory.

The critical element here is evidence. Anecdote is not evidence, and claims unsubstantiated by evidence aren’t worth the proverbial pinch of wombat poo.

If you make a claim about this, back it up with evidence. Real evidence - peer reviewed scientific papers from reputable scientific/medical journals. Anything else is pure speculation.

I’m neither a nutritionist nor a biologist so I don’t know what the answer is and, unless you are (a nutritionist or a biologist), neither do you. So we have to rely on those who do.

Perhaps all the claims made in these threads are absolutely correct. Let’s see the evidence.

It’s neither impossible nor unlikely that the truth isn’t yet proven; that’s perfectly fine and, in that case, the evidence will clearly show it. But simply believing, without evidence, is religion, not science. By all means take the precautionary principle to whatever lengths you want, but don’t tell us that something’s a fact unless you can present the evidence.


Hi Fred

A number of Poison Information Centres use a similar definition of poison to this one from Carolinas Poison Center “A poison is any product or substance that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person, or in the wrong amount. Examples of possible poisons include some household products, chemicals at work or in the environment, drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, or illegal) snake bites, and spider bites.”

Then we have a sort of definition from that states “Poison: Any substance that can cause severe organ damage or death if ingested, breathed in, or absorbed through the skin. Many substances that normally cause no problems, including water and most vitamins, can be poisonous if taken in excessive quantity. Poison treatment depends on the 'substance.”

Most definitions include the fact that what are seen to be usually non -harmful substances eg water can be seen as poisons based on usage.

Nice article here that includes links to peer reviewed evidence about sugar intake:

Another on added sugar in diets:

And an article that asked several Health Specialists eg researchers, doctors and dietitians about too much sugar:

Just as an interesting but somewhat unlinked fact to the amount of sugar in a diet is the LD50 (can’t subscript the 50) of sucrose ie the dose of sucrose needed to kill 50% of subjects 29,700 mg/kg and of glucose 25,800 mg/kg and of water >90g/kg

I guess it depends on what normal is. If it is the added sugar in food we now eat and drink then I think some sugars are becoming what one might call poisonous (damage to organs), not as a single dose but the repeated ingestion so that pancreas and livers are affected. Certainly evidence is accumulating that too much “added” sugar in the diet is of great concern and the WHO have now considered the amount of daily consumption of what they call “free” sugar from all “added” sources should be about 6 teaspoons a day or 25 grams (WHO urges global action to curtail consumption and health impacts of sugary drinks & WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children), for example a can of Coke has about 40 grams. This advice does not include sugars that are naturally occurring in the product which do not seem to add any bad effect eg eating an apple.


Most assuredly,

There was a case a few years ago of a young intellectually disabled man in Canberra, who was known to be obsessed with drinking water. If I remember correctly, he was left alone in a shower, and drank so much water that he died.

This isn’t the issue here, though. It’s been claimed that certain sugars in what we might call normal amounts are poisonous. We await the evidence.

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It would be very dubious in suggesting that fructose is a poison as humans have evolved with with its continual/long term consumption. This is evidenced from humans eating fruits (almost all fruits contain fructose) since being hunters and gathers (thousands of years) through to today’s mass production orchards and home garden fruit trees.

Humans have also raided native bee hives (which contain significant levels of fructose) to obtain the sweet honey as an high energy source. There are recorded showing that this has occurred in Africa and Australia (cave paintings and burial crypts) for 10s of thousands of years.

This is what Nutrition Australia says about ‘Sweet Poison’.

A poison means it is toxic to the human body. Sugar and fructose is not toxic when consumed at moderate levels otherwise we would not be here as our fore bearers would have all be wiped out.

I wouldn’t disagree that over-consumption of sugar in any form (whether added for through natural sources) would pose long term health consequences, no differently to a diet say high in red meat or over-consumption of alcohol.

As humans are living longer, it can be argued that the impacts of longer term over-consumption of foods, alcohol and tobacco become more apparent. The diseases associated with over-consumption become more frequent and obvious.

I would suggest that in moderation and with a well balanced diet, along with a healthy lifestyle (exercising, relaxing, adequate sleep etc), it would be no more harmful than most other food stuffs. The key is not to over-consume by eating those foods which have been loaded with added sugars, making the sugar more available and digestible.

@Fred, there have been many reports of people dying from over-consumption of water. I recall a recent incident relating to a radio completion where the winner was the person who drank the most water. Like anything, the key is moderation as many thinks can give grief in very high concentrations (e.g. salt, ethanol, sugar etc).


Methanol definitely is a poison, the antidote is actually ethanol! Methanol or wood alcohol (CH3-OH) is used as motor car racing fuel, and will send you blind, amongst other damage it will do to your organs. Ethanol (CH3-CH2-OH) is what humans consume.

I agree with the views above that it is excess added sugars that are the problem, as humans have long consumed fruits and berries, honey etc as a normal part of their diet. When I’m harvesting my fruit trees here, I sometimes eat 10 or more apricots in a day, or up to 100 cherries = ~1kg, 4 or 5 pears or peaches, and I have no qualms about eating a couple of large mangoes in a day, or 4 or 5 oranges in a sitting either.
Most recipes for preserved fruit contain large amounts of sugar, but in the cherry season just finished I preserved quite a few cherries in straight organic pear juice (with some brandy on top) without adding any sugar, and so far they apepar to be keeping well, and taste delicious :slight_smile:

Personally I think it is the consumption of large amounts of added sugars of any sort in processed foods, in combination with an inactive lifestyle, ie bugger all exercise, that is the problem. I’m just back from a 56km moutain bike ride, and I typically ride 250-300km per week, so I’m not carrying too much fat around, despite consuming a reasonably large amount of sugar that is naturally found in food. We generally eat minimal amounts of processed food that has added sugar, preferring unadulterated fruits, veg and fish, a fair bit of which we grow ourselves.


:frowning: Damn! Talk about irresponsible!

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Woops, sorry about the slip, Ethanol it is.

But can we please get away from this “added sugar” wording.
It is “added” fructose that is the problem. Eating raw fruit is not generally a problem (some are better than others - see the list on the David Gillespie web site). Even fruit juice and adding fruit juice is a no-no.

In response to Gordon’s comment about fruit, we, as humans, have never consumed large amounts of fruit (until now). And those fruits that we did consume were poor relatives to today’s fruits, they would certainly have contained way more fibre and way less fructose. With regard to honey, modern bee farming of European bees (such as is carried out today) didn’t start until the 18th century and until recently honey was too expensive for many people to buy. For example Australian Aboriginal people often had to extract honey from a hive by poking a stick into a hive, or climbing a tree; further, Australian native bees provide very small quantities of honey.

Saying that you can eat huge quantities of fruit without seeing any ill effects is like saying drinking large amounts of alcohol doesn’t have any ill effects. Both will be doing terrible things to your organs and brain which will, over time, cause hypertension, de novo lipogenesis, dyslipidemia, hepatic steatosis, inflamation, hepatic insulin resistance, obesity, CNS leptin resistance.

Not all people who eat fructose display the all medical problems, some will have one or two, others most of them. And the medical problem won’t show up in 3 months, 3 years or even 30 years, but they will eventually show up and by then it is too late because the body is already damaged.

Just think of the tobacco issue. For years there was no “evidence” that smoking caused health problems but eventually the faux research and blocking of genuine research could not hold back the tide. It is now recognised that smoking kills. There are many dead and dying who believed the phony science on tobacco. The same is true of fructose; keep going the way we are and the same health catastrophe is being repeated.

David Gillespie, Australian lawyer and author, says that any processed food showing more than 3% sugars should not be purchased or consumed. He has responded to recent discussions about sugar tax; his ABC interview can be found at:-
See also his web pages at:-

Below are two screen shots from Dr Robert Lustig’s talks. His email address is available on the internet and anyone who wants scientific references to his work should contact him.

This is a very recent video by Dr Robert Lustig.

The WHO actually refer to “free sugar” as “The term “free sugars” was used by the 2002 Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (3) when updating the population nutrient intake goals, which were originally established by the WHO Study Group in 1989 (4). The term “free sugars” was referred to in the 2002 WHO/FAO Expert Consultation as “all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices” (3). However, as noted in the Remarks section under the Recommendations, the term has been further elaborated for this guideline by the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG) Subgroup on Diet and Health as follows: “Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates”.”

WHO do not distinguish between Glucose/Dextrose and other sugars when these sugars are added to foods. They have even now increased the definition of “free sugars” to include those naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrates. I agree that in juices and similar it is the sudden hit of sugars that causes problems but it is also the added calories/kilojoules of energy that all added sugars bring without any other nutritional benefit that are causing problems.

Choice has decided, and I feel rightly so, to address the concern of added sugars in the foods that are produced for our consumption whether those sugars are mono- or di- saccharides.

Nor do I say that fructose is good for you but only in the sense of that of added fructose and sucrose and not that which is naturally in the fruit, vegetables and meats that we eat (other than when sometimes concentrated by means of juicing).

So to say only fructose should be of concern rather than the broader term “added sugars” is narrowing the field too restrictively in my opinion.


@jepc. What Dr Robert Lustig says is interesting it is also alarmist and pessimistic. He also acknowledges that much of what he says is his belief and what he feels are the conclusions from his own observations as a practicing pediatric endocrinologist. It can also be acknowledged that he has not carried out any research to validate many of his claims, but believes, these claims are based on merits.

While it may be populist to use research results for the basis of exaggerated and alarmist claims, this does not serve either the debate nor the original research. It is like the media claiming every year or two that some research organisation has found the cure for prevalent difficult to treat cancers, then in fact the results for the research undertaken has shown favourable outcomes to the hypothesis being tested and did not produce a cure.

Likewise with what Dr Robert Lustig says, while it is known the pitfalls and health consequences of longterm over-consumption of sugar, being alarmist that sugar is toxic to the human body is flawed especially when humans have consumed high sugar foods/honey for 10s thousands of years.

There are many nutritionists and researchers which have interesting views on his beliefs and his view that sugar is toxic, including dietary restrictions for fruits and vegetables that contain natural sugar/fructose.

Some of his ideologies goes against balanced diet principles which were based on research, have been around for decades and haven’t changed much after much review.

What Dr Robert Lustig says may also be proven to be correct (or partially correct) in years to come, I don’t know and suspect he doesn’t know either.

However, when looking at information available on the internet, one must also consider scientific research which has been peer reviewed to gain a balanced view on the facts as they exist.

I should also say that I avoid/limit intake added sugar when possible, but have no quarms in eating range of foods in season with differing sugar contents.


Very interesting peer reviewed article on some of the undesirable effects of “free fructose” can be found here:


Dr Lustig is definitely not alarmist. You may think he is pessimistic, however he has seen things get very much worse since he has been scientifically studying the issue.

Sugar is toxic to the human body, Dr Lustig and his scientific colleagues have “causal medical inference” which substantiates this (see his video “Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0”).

I would be interested to hear what “high sugar foods/honey” humans have consumed “for 10s thousands of years”.

Humans have DEFINITELY NOT consumed large amounts of fruit (until now). And those fruits that we did consume were poor relatives to today’s fruits; they would certainly have contained way more fibre and way less fructose and have been only sporadically available.

Yes, Dr Lustig is challenging many previously held views on the issue of fructose, however he has been researching the matter for many years now and his published peer-reviewed papers have not been debunked