SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 4, 2013

Nailing down ‘fructose’

Study links fructose sweetener to obesity

Only glucose shuts off appetite, brain imaging shows


NEW YORK — Fructose, a sweetener found on many food labels, might contribute to weight gain and obesity because it has minimal effect on brain regions that control appetite, a study by Yale University researchers found.

  • The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to compare the human brain’s response to both fructose and glucose, two types of simple sugars used separately and together to sweeten food.

Researchers long have suspected that increased consumption of food flavored with fructose, a substance sweeter to the taste than glucose, might contribute to the U.S. obesity epidemic. The latest study used brain imaging to measure activity after the sweeteners were consumed. It found that only glucose had the ability to reduce blood flow in areas of the brain that regulate appetite, stopping people from wanting to eat more.

  • The data “surely suggest that it’s probably not in your best interest to have high fructose-containing drinks because they’re not going to cause you to be full, and you’ll tend to consume more calories,” said Robert Sherwin, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
  • The brain requires glucose as a fuel, Sherwin said. When there isn’t enough in the body, it turns on cells to try to get a person to eat more. Once glucose levels rise, the brain turns those cells off. The study found that fructose doesn’t have the ability to operate that off switch.

“If you don’t turn off the areas of the brain that are driving you to eat, you have a tendency to eat more than you would,” Sherwin said.

Better understanding of how certain foods and obesity affect the brain and body is important, researchers have said, at a time when the number of obese American adults has more than doubled in the past 30 years to about 78 million.

The study included 20 healthy adults who underwent magnetic resonance imaging. The researchers found a “significantly greater” reduction in blood flow after glucose ingestion, reducing activation of the hypothalamus, insula and stria-tum, brain areas that regulate food motivation and reward processing.

Glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood, is the top source of energy for the body’s cells. It comes from fruits, vegetables and other foods we eat, such as starches that the body breaks down into glucose. The healthiest source for glucose is natural complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, Sherwin said.

Fructose is largely derived within the food industry from sugar cane, beets and corn. It’s added to foods and drinks because it is so sweet, helping food maintain its sweetness over longer periods of time and through the freezing process. While corn is also high in glucose, high-fructose corn syrup that’s added to processed foods, sodas, juices and sauces is made by adding fructose to corn syrup.

(Jan’s Comment:   

It is so lovely when ‘science’  is able to progress to the point where it IS finally able to reveal to us the reasons behind the events we are seeing with our own eyes.   Most of us are fairly capable of evaluating by means of observation, and for decades now, we have seen obesity rise and questioned this.

Many have  associated the emergence of “high fructose corn syrup” and equated the increasing usage of this product as it found such great favor amongst food producers due to its low cost and heightened sweetness  – while simultaneously, increasing the girth of our population.  There have been many who have spoken out on this, to be sure.    

By and large, manufacturers have spent millions with advertising saying things like “sugar is sugar” – – it’s all the same!      Many people realized the truth of it, but til now. . . not much science behind it.    Now we know. Let us hope this will put this issue to rest now and hope for corrective action.  Maybe we should call Michelle Obama, she might have an idea or two.          Jan

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