TUESDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- In the United States and elsewhere, high fructose corn syrup is ubiquitous in soft drinks, sweet baked goods and many processed foods. But a new study shows that as a nation's rate of fructose intake rises, so do levels of type 2 diabetes.
The study cannot prove a cause-and-effect link, but it does conclude that diabetes prevalence is about 20 percent higher in countries where use of the sweetener is high, relative to those where it is not.
The association between high fructose corn syrup intake and diabetes risk persisted regardless of an individual's overall sugar intake or obesity status. According to the study authors, that suggests that there's something special about the sweetener that's boosting diabetes risk beyond what other sugars would.
"The 20 percent higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes in countries using a lot of high fructose corn syrup was not explained by population differences in terms of obesity [levels]," said study lead author Michael Goran, professor of preventive medicine and director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
"So, there's some other factor, maybe several interrelated factors, over and above obesity, that contributes to diabetes," he said. "High fructose corn syrup and the way it is metabolized may very well be one of them," he added.
The findings were published online Nov. 27 in Global Public Health.
Type 2 diabetes, which is typically tied to obesity, remains one of the most common causes of death worldwide. According to Goran's team, nearly 8 percent of people worldwide could be diabetic by 2030. Much of the rise is taking place in the developing world, as diets shift to more Western fare high in carbohydrates and sugars.
But are all sugars created equally? Goran and his team say prior studies have suggested that fr
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