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Diabetes Update: Trans Fats, Honey, CU

Number 23; October 15, 2001

By David Mendosa

This newsletter keeps you up-to-date with new articles, columns, and Web pages that I have written. I list and link most of these on my Diabetes Directory at

From time to time Diabetes Update may also include links to other Web pages of special interest.

My most recent contributions are:

    on October 1, 2001
  • Finding Official Information
    My new "About the Internet" column for the American Diabetes Association's Web site explains how to use the two best Web sites for finding government information on diabetes. One of these sites also finds pages on top-line non-profits, like the American Diabetes Association itself, and the other includes state sites. The URL is

    on September 22, 2001

  • Trans Fatty Acids
    I just realized this week that LXN Corp. had not published an important article that I wrote for its "e-Charged Newsletter" before it ceased publication. The article, on trans fatty acids, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, should blow away the myth that the worst fats are those that are saturated. The URL is

Updates include:

  • Consumer Reports on Meters
    Every time I read a Consumer Reports article about something I know well, I appreciate once again why I cancelled my subscription. I always find serious mistakes. That's no less true with the magazine's October 2001 article "Taking Charge of Diabetes." Their review of "Which Meters are Best?" promised the most—and delivered the most misinformation.

    I find it inexplicable that the magazine would conclude that "finger pricks caused slightly [emphasis added] more pain" than meters that allow blood to be taken from the arm or thigh. I must be an old softie, because to me the appropriate modifier has to be the word significantly.

    The magazine also said that its panelists found alternative sites on the arm or thigh to be "messier than finger pricks." I think that they in fact have this comparison backwards.

    The most serious obvious flaw in the Consumer Reports review is that they compared only 11 meters. That probably sounded like a lot to them, but is only one-third of the 33 models currently available on the U.S. market. I describe and link all of them at On-line Diabetes Resources, Part 14: Blood Glucose Meters.

    They failed to include perhaps the best of the alternative site meters, the MediSense Sof-Tact. Also not considered is the Bayer Glucometer Elite or Elite XL, rated by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein for his patients as the most accurate meter. If you still care about the magazine's conclusions, see my Meters page.

  • Is Honey Really Low Glycemic?
    Maybe I've developed too much of a proprietary interest in the glycemic index. But irritation is too mild a word for my reaction to the deceitfulness of the National Honey Board.

    This industry association frankly develops "consumer information programs to increase the demand for honey" and isn't shy about letting the truth about honey getting in the way of promoting it. Honey has a "low glycemic index" and produces "only mild increases in blood sugar and insulin," according to the association's September 25 press release.

    Even worse, the well-respected About Diabetes Web site bought this pack of lies. This is the same (otherwise fine) site that published three of my articles in July and August. About Diabetes copied the press release at and summarized it on the site and its email newsletter at

    The truth is that the glycemic index of honey is 83 when compared with white bread set to equal 100 and 55 when glucose equals 100. This is documented in the bible of glycemic index studies, Jennie Brand-Miller's 1999 book, The Glucose Revolution and my Glycemic Index Lists. That's a higher glycemic index than popcorn, spaghetti, or sweet potatoes. This number is based on the article, "Glycaemic index of foods containing sugar," by Jennie Brand-Miller and associates in the British Journal of Nutrition (1995, pp. 613-23).

    The very first glycemic index study, in fact, came up with a much higher level. DJA Jenkins et al. reported in "Glycemic index of foods" in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1981, pp. 362-366) that honey's GI was 124 (when white bread = 100) and 87 (when glucose = 100). Jennie Brand-Miller included this study in the first edition of her book but later excluded it, because, as she wrote me in 1998, that the study was flawed.

    A high glycemic index for honey won't surprise anyone who has read the USDA's "National Nutrient Database." Honey is 82.4 percent carbohydrate, of which it is 82.1 percent sugar, and 17.1 percent water. That leaves 0.5 percent, which is 0.3 protein and 0.2 ash. It has trace amounts of minerals and vitamins.


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