New Evidence Solidifies Link Between Fructose and Body Fat
It’s no secret that overweight and obesity are more common today than ever before in history. Even childhood obesity—once a medical rarity—is becoming increasingly common. Many factors have been blamed for this troubling trend, which has resulted in a whopping two-thirds of adults becoming overweight or obese in this and many other developed countries.
Everything from increased time spent viewing television or in front of a computer screen (being sedentary), to decades of antibiotic use (which almost invariably increases weight gain), to the prevalence of fast food (view the film “Supersize Me” if you have any doubts about the healthfulness of this sort of diet), to the abundance of inexpensive food in general, has been blamed for this crisis. It’s unclear what exactly is responsible. Quite possibly it’s a combination of these factors, which are inarguably far more common today than in the past. And then there’s fructose.
Fructose is a natural sugar—a simple carbohydrate—which is ordinarily encountered in the diet in whole fruit. In this context, fructose appears to perfectly safe to consume. But there’s nothing natural about most Americans’ intakes of fructose these days. We’re consuming far more fructose than our ancestors ever did, and it’s seldom in the context of eating whole fruit. Rather, it comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is added to a broad array of prepared foods and drinks.
To be clear, ordinary table sugar (sucrose) is composed of a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule joined together. The amount of glucose in a given amount of sugar is slightly more than half of the whole, compared to fructose. In contrast, HFCS supplies slightly more fructose than glucose. The HFCS industry vigorously denies that fructose is handled any differently in the body than glucose. But that’s simply not true. Experts say the body treats fructose much differently than glucose. Especially when it comes in an unnatural form, such as HFCS.
In particular, it’s far more likely to contribute to weight gain and obesity, and has even been linked to increased inactivity—a risk factor for heart disease and other common diseases. This is not mere speculation. Studies have repeatedly shown that the body handles fructose differently. Check back tomorrow for more on this timely subject.
Catarina Rendeiro, Ashley M. Masnik, Jonathan G. Mun, Kristy Du, Diana Clark, Ryan N. Dilger, Anna C. Dilger, Justin S. Rhodes. Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 9589 DOI: 10.1038/srep09589