Certainly we dont think fructose is the only cause of the obesity epidemic, Johnson said. Too many calories, too much junk food and too much high-fat food are also part of the problem. But we think that fructose may have the unique ability to induce insulin resistance and features of the metabolic syndrome that other foods dont do so easily.
About 33 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Studies at other institutions have shown that following a low-glycemic diet can reduce the risk for diabetes and heart disease, but the effect could occur because these dieters often are unintentionally limiting fructose as well by cutting out table sugar, Johnson said.
Processed foods have a lot of sugar, Johnson said. Probably the biggest source (of fructose) is soft drinks.
Johnson also noted that, in relation to obesity, the type of fructose found in foods doesnt seem to matter. For example, the fructose in an apple is as problematic as the high-fructose corn syrup in soda. The apple is much more nutritious and contains far less sugar, but eating multiple apples in one sitting could send the body over the fructose edge.
In another UF paper, published in October in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Johnson and his collaborators tracked the rise of obesity and diseases such as diabetes with the rise in sugar consumption. The rates of hypertension, diabetes and childhood obesity have risen steadily over the years.
One of the things we have learned is this whole epidemic brought on by Western diet and culture tracks back to the 1800s, he said. Nowadays, fructose and high-fructose corn syrup are in everything.
Aside from soft drinks, fructose can be found in pastries, ketchup, fruits, table sugar and jellies and in many processed foods,
|Contact: April Frawley Birdwell|
University of Florida