How fructose can wreak havoc on your health

How fructose can wreak havoc on your health

Matching calorie for calorie with the simple sugar glucose, fructose causes significant weight gain, physical inactivity and body fat deposition, according to a recent study.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the research drew conclusions from two groups of mice, one that was fed a diet in which 18 percent of the calories came from fructose (mimicking the intake of U.S. adolescents) and another that was fed 18 percent from glucose. Both groups consumed the typical caloric intake for a mouse.

After two-and-a-half months, the fructose-fed mice displayed significant increase in body weight, liver mass, and fat mass compared to the glucose-fed mice. The fructose-fed mice were also less active than their laboratory counterparts.

“We designed this study based on the intake of fructose by adolescents in the United States,” said Justin Rhodes, study leader at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in a news release. “Our study suggests that such levels of fructose can indeed play a role in weight gain, favor fat deposition, and also contribute to physical inactivity. Given the dramatic increase in obesity among young people and the severe negative effects that this can have on health throughout one’s life, it is important to consider what foods are providing our calories.”

The research further taints the reputation of fructose, a simple carbohydrate derived from fruit and vegetables that appears to behave more like fat in the body than like other carbohydrates. Sucrose, glucose and fructose are all carbohydrates.

Because fructose has been added to many soft drinks and processed foods over the last 40 years, consumption of the sweetener has increased dramatically. Fructose accounts for 10 percent of caloric intake of the average American and up to 23 percent of the daily caloric intake for male adolescents, the top fructose consumers, which is four times more than the maximum levels recommended by the American Heart Association.

“People should educate themselves about what they are eating and drinking and always read labels,” said B.J. Ray, registered nurse and certified wellness program manager at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

The American Beverage Association, an industry lobbying group, disputes the claim that fructose has a significant effect on weight gain when compared to other carbohydrates containing the same amount of calories.

Existing evidence has shown that weight gain occurs from the consumption of calories from any source – if not burned off through physical activity and normal metabolic processes, according to one of the association’s websites.

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  1. I knew fruits and veggies were bad for you!!!

    • It’s not the fruits and veggies, obviously: it’s taking the sugars in them and then concentrating them into high-fructose products that makes them awful for you. BTW, agave nectar is a perfect example: touted as a ‘healthier’ substitute for table sugar, it’s really just another high-fructose syrup, only made from cactus instead of corn. You’re better off just eating fruit or drinking unprocessed fruit juice. For that matter, you’re better off just using a spoonful of table sugar or honey in your tea than the agave nectar! (and that way, your tea won’t taste like tequila)

  2. Yes the language should be clear, ” natural sugars in fruits and vegetables versus processed sugars. Fruitose as in HFCs comes with high health risk as evident in our nations health issues. Just don’t buy anything in a package or box unless it’s fruits and veggies

  3. Let’s try the same experiment on monkeys and see if the result is the same or different…..

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About the Author

Lisa Parro
Lisa Parro

Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is a content manager for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.