WEDNESDAY June 25, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study
suggests that consuming fructose containing sweeteners including high fructose
corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose in beverages or processed food may increase the
odds for a person to become obese.
The study showed obese and overweight people who had an
intake of about 15 percent of calories from pure fructose for a period of as
short as ten weeks gained 1.5 kilograms in weight and had their intra-abdominal
Intra-abdominal fat is the one that wraps around internal
organs and causes a pot belly and has been linked to an increased risk of
diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In comparison, the same amount of weight gain was also
observed in a group of obese and overweight people who used glucose, but the
increase in intra-abdominal fat did not occur in the group.
Glucose is the basic compound found in complex carbohydrates
like grain starch.
The study was
conducted by Peter Havel at al at the University of California Davis and the
results were presented at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Francisco
Fructose in HFCS, which is widely used in soft drinks and
heavily consumed by Americans, has been long suspected to be a culprit for the
ever-increasing obesity epidemic in the United States.
Studies showed that people are not sensitive to fructose and
even after consuming tons of it they do not have a full feel to a point that
they would stop using it, a conceivable way for a person to become obese or
Fructose containing HFSC has been also found to cause an
oxidative stress in the body and reports being circulated around suggest that
fructose and HFCS trigger insulin resistance and diabetes.
The study was meant to examine the effect of pure fructose
on the weight gain in obese and overweight people. Two phrases of key words
that should be remembered are PURE fructose and obese and overweight people.
In the study, the researchers asked 33 overweight and obese
adults to go on a diet consisting of 30 percent fat, 55 percent complex carbohydrates
and 15 percent protein for a period of two weeks.
Afterwards, they told participants to use a diet in which 25
percent of their calories coming from either fructose or glucose for further 10
People in both groups gained an average 1.5 kilograms in
weight, the study found.
But the types of
fat each group gained differed with only the fructose group gaining the risky
type of fat associated with heart disease.
Additionally, those who consumed fructose also had raised
levels of fatty triglycerides, which get deposited as intra-abdominal fat and cholesterol,
according to a statement by New Scientist. In this group, insulin sensitivity
fell by 20 percent.
None of these effects were seen in the group consuming
Because the study used pure fructose, it is not known if the
results would apply to HFCS or sucrose.
"The question is, what is the amount of HFCS or normal
sugar you need to consume to get these effects?" said Havel, who suggested
that people with metabolite syndrome avoid drinking too much of any fructose-containing
Metabolic syndrome is a blend of conditions including belly
fat and insulin resistance that are associated with diabetes and cardiovascular
PepsiCo, which funded Havel's research, did not think the
results of the study are applicable to the company or the drinks the company
"This is a very interesting and important study,"
said a spokeswoman. "But it does not reflect a real-world situation nor is
it applicable to PepsiCo since pure fructose is not an ingredient in any of our
food and beverage products."
However, evidence showed HFCS does have a negative effect to
say the least.
In another study,
Havel and colleagues compared the immediate effects of consuming a meal with 25
percent of the energy from either one of HFCS, sucrose, fructose and glucose.
They found that blood triglyceride levels were raised to a
similar level 24 hours after consuming fructose, sucrose or HFCS, but not
glucose, suggesting the fructose and fructose containing products may have the
same effect on obesity, obesity and cardiovascular health.
The findings were published in the American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition vol 87 p 1194.
Nevertheless, long-term studies are needed to confirm
whether the high levels of triglycerides produced by HFCS and sucrose have the similar
effects to fructose on abdominal fat and insulin resistance.
"It adds to what we have known for a long time,"
said Francine Kaufman at the Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. "It's
probably not a good idea to consume too much sugar."
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