How fructose turns us into fat, hibernating bears: study


August 2, 2023 | 18:04

Sugar, oh, baby, baby!

A study published last week in the journal Philosophical Transactions found that fructose consumption fuels obesity and conditions such as diabetes and fatty liver disease.

World Health Organization defines overweight as having a body mass index above 25, while obesity is a BMI above 30 – which more people around the globe are reaching.

The international team of researchers determined that fructose activates a “survival switch” to store fuel in anticipation of scarce resources – a trait often seen in hibernating animals.

Fructose is a simple ketone sugar that naturally sweetens plants and fruits. Americans typically consume fructose via table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, which has been shown to have harmful consequences for health.

A recently published study found that fructose intake fuels obesity and diseases such as diabetes.

The link between fructose and obesity and metabolic-related health conditions has been extensively studied, but these new findings are said to provide a more complete picture of the link.

“This is an in-depth review of a hypothesis that puts nature at the center of weight gain, and examines how fructose works differently than other nutrients in lowering active energy.” said lead study author Dr. Richard Johnsonprofessor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“This work brings together in one place the full argument for how a particular carbohydrate, fructose, may have a central role in driving obesity and diabetes.”

Results show that fructose encourages increased food intake and lowers one’s resting energy metabolism – just as an animal prepares to hibernate.

Researchers from the University of Colorado, National Institute of Cardiology Ignacio Chavez, Boston University, Karolinska Institute, Aichi Medical University and Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition combined a large amount of previous work to find out the precise function fructose plays in the development of obesity.

Results show that fructose encourages increased food intake and lowers one’s resting energy metabolism – just as an animal prepares to hibernate.

Most fructose is consumed through table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, rather than fruits and plants.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Researchers also found that fructose can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, fatty liver and a host of other metabolic-related problems.

The study notes that fructose intake may increase the risk of cancer, pregnancy-related disease and neurological disorders.

“We can trace it back to our ancestors, as well as learn from hibernating animals, exactly how fructose causes this ‘switch’ in us,” Johnson said.

Understanding the causes of obesity is becoming increasingly important as worrying reports continue to warn of dangerous trends, including that half the world is on track to be overweight or obese by 2035 and that diabetes cases are set to double to 1 .3 billion adults in 2050.

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