Dr. David Levitsky


This issue is also “not at a governmental level. The forces behind selling food are much more powerful”.

Last week, I shared my conversation with Dr. McCormick about fructose. (If you have not yet read that story, I highly encourage you to so that you’ll understand Dr. Robert Lustig’s arguments about fructose).

I continued this investigation by speaking to another faculty member of Cornell’s nutrition department – Dr. Levitsky:


Contrary to what Dr. Lustig argues, Dr. Levitsky states that “the issue with fructose is not metabolic”.

Fructose corn syrup is found primarily in snack foods, because it is cheaper for the manufacturers to use. However, it is not the ingredient, fructose, that is causing rising obesity levels. Increased consumption of fructose is a result of increased consumption of snacks, which is caused by increased advertising about snacks.

In short, we are eating more snacks, and therefore are increasing our caloric intake. A greater caloric intake increases the risk for developing obesity, which increases risks for heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases linked with metabolic syndrome.

The rise in caloric intake is not significant though; it’s only an increase in “50 to 200 calories per day, which is unnoticeable”. The gradual, accumulation of extra calories each day is where the problem lies, not in fructose itself. (Take a look at Dr. Levitsky’s extensive research about body weight and eating habits.)

I asked, so should manufacturers assume responsibility? They’re the ones making the advertisements, impacting our snacking habits, and adding fructose to the products.

“It’s a political condition. [The manufacturers] have to sell you more food to show an increase in profits to their stockholders.

They are playing the game. It’s a terrible, capitalistic game. But it’s not fair for them to take responsibility for the consequences.”

Well, what about the government and their subsidies? Would subsidizing other fruits and vegetables, as opposed to corn, lower the cost to eat healthier and encourage healthier eating behaviors?

“I’m not an expert in economic policies, but here are my thoughts:

There have been studies that have shown that subsidizing good food is not effective.”

Though it is a good idea, the changes in price are not significant enough to significantly alter food choices. “Now, if you made fruits and vegetables a couple of cents, then you’ll see different results.” But practically speaking, small changes in the cost of fruits and vegetables will not make a difference.

This issue is also “not at a governmental level. The forces behind selling food are much more powerful”. Therefore, in his research, he’s focusing on the “power within an individual”. That means “the scale-constant vigilance” in weighing yourself every morning.

So what I’m hearing is that it’s considerably more about calories in and out, over caloric quality?

It’s all about caloric intake.

The key lies in resisting “forces in the environment”. Advertising about food is abundant, and studies have shown that people are more likely to eat food when they see more food; it’s a behavior from our ancestors (the cavemen).

Eating “is a primal response to the showing of food. Food is [now] always there”, and people have to resist it and prevent overeating. This can be done by weighing yourself every morning so that you are aware of the effects of your intake.

But doesn’t quantifying health increase risks of negative health behaviors, particularly with eating disorders?

There is “no evidence that weighing yourself leads to eating disorders. It is true that individuals with eating disorders weigh themselves frequently, but weighing yourself is not the causation. It is a correlation.”


The bottom line: to improve health, the individual must be empowered. Reliance on the government or manufacturers will not fix health problems. Dr. Levitsky considers weighing yourself daily to be the best strategy in preventing obesity.



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