Eating fruit won't make you fat: dietitian

Sarah Wiedersehn

Fructose is not the villain and Australians must continue to eat their daily recommended two serves of fruit, implore dietitians.

The sugar fructose, a type of carbohydrate naturally found in fruit and syrups such as honey, has unfairly been the subject of considerable scaremongering in recent years, says the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).

Some critics have linked dietary fructose to obesity and insulin resistance.

Sadly, the fear around fructose means many people have stopped eating fruit which contains much needed fibre and important vitamins and minerals.

Some parents have even reported that their kids refuse to eat fruit because they believe it will make them fat.

Like most nutrients or food components, the quantity we eat or drink is key, says the DAA.

Research shows moderate fructose consumption of less than 50g a day or around 10 per cent of energy has no adverse effect on the body's lipid, or fat, and glucose control.

Similarly, less than 100g a day does not influence body weight.

In other words, to be harmful to health, people would need to eat at least 50g of pure fructose on top of their regular diet.

Dr Alan Barclay and practising dietitian and DAA spokesperson says fructose is not to blame for the high levels of obesity in Australia.

"The reality is that few Australians eat pure fructose, let alone in the amounts required to cause adverse health problems," he said.

Dr Barclay says although there are some studies, mainly on animals, that show large amounts of pure fructose will cause some health problems, the critics have gone way to far and said anything that contains fructose must therefore be bad for you.

"It's a misinterpretation of the science," he said.

A very small amount, about one to three per cent, is actually released as fat into the blood in human beings under normal circumstances, says Dr Barclay.

"100 per cent of fructose is not converted into fat as is stated by some of the anti-fructose warriors in the community."

To single out fructose is naive and people should be cutting down on all added sugars to reduce the added energy contributing to weight gain and to decrease the risk of cavities in teeth, advises Dr Barclay.

"Focussing on one sugar is really quite silly. We should be cutting down on all of those free sugars to address the health issues facing all Australians," he said.