Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Review
  • Published:

What nutritional physiology tells us about diet, sugar and obesity


In this closing perspective, the author exposes why targeting a single nutrient like sugar is in his opinion unlikely to be efficient in preventing obesity and metabolic diseases. He defends the proposal that the concept of fructose toxicity is based on major misconceptions of nutritional physiology. He specifically proposes that (1) sugar being a non-essential nutrient does not obligatorily imply that it has no beneficial effect; (2) alterations of blood triglyceride concentration and hepatic glucose production within the normal range may merely reflect adaptations to a fructose-rich diet rather than early markers of diseases; (3) overfeeding is a normal physiological response to exposure to an energy-dense, palatable nutrient rather than the consequence of ‘leptin resistance’; (4) we may presently overemphasize the role of biological regulations and of gene-related heredity when assessing the effects of fructose in particular, and the determinants of obesity in general.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD . Public health: the toxic truth about sugar. Nature 2012; 482: 27–29.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Eliasen M, Becker U, Gronbaek M, Juel K, Tolstrup JS . Alcohol-attributable and alcohol-preventable mortality in Denmark: an analysis of which intake levels contribute most to alcohol's harmful and beneficial effects. Eur J Epidemiol 2014; 29: 15–26.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Tryon MS, Stanhope KL, Epel ES, Mason AE, Brown R, Medici V et al. Excessive sugar consumption may be a difficult habit to break: a view from the brain and body. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015; 100: 2239–2247.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Tappy L, Le KA . Metabolic effects of fructose and the worldwide increase in obesity. Physiol Rev 2010; 90: 23–46.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Lutter M, Nestler EJ . Homeostatic and hedonic signals interact in the regulation of food intake. J Nutr 2009; 139: 629–632.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Breslin PA . An evolutionary perspective on food and human taste. Curr Biol 2013; 23: R409–R418.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Bellisle F, Drewnowski A, Anderson GH, Westerterp-Plantenga M, Martin CK . Sweetness, satiation, and satiety. J Nutr 2012; 142: 1149S–1154S.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


The author’s work in this area has been supported by grants 320030–135782, 320030–138428, 32003B-156167 and IZ73Z0–152331 from the Swiss National Science Foundation, 11-06 from the Bundes Amt fur Sport BASPO and from Nestle SA, Switzerland and Ajinomoto Inc, Japan. The editorial Aisstance of Mrs E. Tappy is warmly acknowledged. This article is based on a symposium entitled ‘Sweeteners and Health: Findings from Recent Research and their Impact on Obesity and Related Metabolic Conditions’ presented at the 22nd European Congress on Obesity, Prague, on 7 May 2015 with sponsorship from Rippe Lifestyle Institute.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to L Tappy.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

LT has received lecture fees from Rippe Lifestyle Institute, Nestlé SA and Soremartec. LT has also received grant support from the Swiss National Foundation for Science and Federal Office for Sport BASPO, Switzerland, and serves as an expert witness for the French food security agency ANSES.

Additional information

This article is based on a symposium entitled ‘Sweeteners and Health: Findings from Recent Research and their Impact on Obesity and Related Metabolic Conditions’ presented at the European Congress on Obesity on May 7, 2015 with sponsorship from Rippe Lifestyle Institute.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tappy, L. What nutritional physiology tells us about diet, sugar and obesity. Int J Obes 40 (Suppl 1), S28–S29 (2016).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links