Re “Valley facing a litany of health problems” (Page A1, April 21): The article was interesting, especially in discussing obesity and diabetes. But there was no mention of the roll fructose plays in the amount of obesity and diabetes type II found in the Valley and the U.S. in general.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a staff member at UC San Francisco medical school, writes frequently about fructose and its part in the diabetes epidemic. Dr. Lustig points out that fructose is only metabolized in the liver and the only thing the liver can do with fructose is turn it into fat. Fructose also causes fatty liver disease, which is the most common diagnosis leading to liver transplants. Fructose also causes metabolic syndrome, which causes the pancreas to secrete insulin for much longer periods than normal.
Dr. Lustig wrote of one child who was drinking enough fructose-sweetened orange juice to cause him to gain 22 pounds every year. The mother asked if fructose is so bad for you, why does the WIC program gives out the juice. There is no good answer.
Assuming Valley parents want to avoid obesity, type II diabetes, liver disease and metabolic syndrome, I urge them to pay attention to the effects of fructose. This means a drastic change in eating habits.
Edward B. Freehan, M.D., Merced