Jan. 3 (RIA Novosti) Scientists have found consumption of fructose, a sugar used in foods and beverages commonly consumed in the United States, may cause overeating, offering more evidence of a direct link between the quality of Americans’ diet and the obesity epidemic in the United States.
The goal of the study, published in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, was to search for evidence that might uncover a link between fructose and weight gain.
“Increases in fructose consumption have paralleled the increasing prevalence of obesity, and high-fructose diets are thought to promote weight gain and insulin resistance,” according to the study’s abstract, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Using MRI scans, a team of researchers from Yale University tracked blood flow in the brains of 20 healthy adults of normal weight, both before and after consuming drinks containing fructose and glucose, simple sugars that affect the human body in different ways.
Drinking glucose, "turns off or suppresses the activity of areas of the brain that are critical for reward and desire for food," said study researcher Dr. Robert Sherwin of Yale University.
However with consumption of fructose, "we don't see those changes," he said. "As a result, the desire to eat continues — it isn't turned off."
The study does not prove categorically that consumption of fructose causes obesity. But the researchers said their findings add to the mounting evidence that there is some kind of causal link between fructose intake and obesity.
Over the past three decades, fructose, along with high fructose corn syrup, has become a common ingredient in processed foods and beverages widely consumed in the United States.
“In the 1800s and early 1900s, the average American took in about 15 grams of fructose (about half an ounce), mostly from eating fruits and vegetables,” P.J. Skerrett, editor of Harvard University’s health blog, noted.
According to Skerrett, Americans now average 55 grams of fructose per day, an increase that parallels the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the country.
A single 20-ounce (590-ml) bottle of cola, for example, contains 35.75 grams of fructose according to data obtained from the NutritionData.com website.
The World Health Organization has said the US has the highest obesity rate in the world. More than one-third of American adults are classified as ‘obese’ by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.