Childhood diabetes and obesity could be encouraged by food sweetener

A recent study conducted at the University of California has discovered that the cheap sugar substitute, fructose, could only be adding to diabetes and obesity. The sugar substitute which is found in corn and is synthesized to create a sweeter form of sugar bypasses the part of digestion that would normally break down all other varieties of sugar. This in turn could be damaging not only children’s but every human metabolism.

Until now this form of sweetener, which can be found in many popular foods and drinks could have remained a silent killer. This is the first study that has been conducted on humans and raises frankly disturbing health warnings to parents both for themselves and their children. The ingredient to blame can be seen on many food labels as “glucose-fructose syrup” or “high-fructose corn syrup” and is synthesized from 55% fructose and 45% glucose syrup from maize. What people do not know is when this form of sugar bypasses the normal part of digestion that would break the sugar down, it enters the liver wholly formed still and can cause reactions. These reactions could then be disrupting the body’s metabolism which would normally tell the body to store or burn fact. Hence, the increase of obesity.

The study itself was carried out on 16 volunteers who then consumed a diet which included high forms of this sugar. Shockingly, the results showed that after just ten weeks the volunteers had developed increased fat cells surrounding their hearts, livers and other major organs and all volunteers put on a similar amount of weight which is thought would increase significantly if the diet was maintained. Perhaps more worryingly they also showed an increased abnormality in their food processing which is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Another group of volunteers were placed on a diet of glucose sugar instead of the fructose, and none of them developed any of the problems that the fructose diet volunteers did.

These results have been rejected by the UK’s Food and Drink Federation as they find it absurd to believe that one single ingredient can be blamed for the cause of diabetes and obesity. However, the results do show a worrying impact that fructose could have on the diet. Whilst we maybe cannot blame fructose alone it does serve as a timely reminder that we are not always aware of the impact that some food products could be having on our health. Equally this week a report is thought to be issued which declares that in just over 5 year’s time in 2010, one in ten children could be obese. Along with Professor Popkin’s message from the University of North Carolina, “Historically, we never consumed much sugar. We’re not built to process it” it reminds us that our lifestyles could be having a major impact on our health.

Tuesday 15th December 2009 

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