Dietary fructose and diabetes link

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: April 11th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Americans trying to trim their waistlines often blame frequent snack attacks for many of those extra pounds. Now new research finds when it comes to satisfying cravings for confections, consumers should weigh more than just how much to eat. The kind of sugar consumed also could make a difference.

A University of Florida study suggests fructose, a key component of table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, the super sweetener in many processed foods, may trigger metabolic syndrome. The condition can lead to type two diabetes and is characterized by obesity, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

Americans are feasting on more fructose than ever… consumption is up thirty percent since the early 1970s. It’s in soft drinks, jellies, pastries… even ketchup. Meanwhile, the number of Americans with metabolic syndrome has swelled to fifty-five-million.

Researchers fed lab rats high-fructose diets and found the sugar caused blood levels of uric [yurr-ick] acid to rapidly rise. That blocked the action of insulin, which regulates how cells use and store sugar for energy, and caused the animals to become obese.

Doctors say the same chemical reaction might be fueling the nation’s obesity epidemic. But it could be reversible. When scientists lowered uric acid levels in the rats’ blood, they gained less weight, blood pressure dropped and blood levels of bad fats diminished.

The research also indicates other sugars don’t bite back… because they don’t engage the same biochemical pathway as fructose. So they may be a better choice for some consumers.