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High Fructose Diet Associated With Obesity

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Leptin resistance, a condition closely associated with obesity, can be caused by consuming too much fructose. Fructose is one of the most common sugars found in food.

Past research has shown that leptin resistance often increases the risk of obesity when the effected individual consumes a high fat diet. "Leptin is a hormone that plays a role in helping the body to balance food intake with energy expenditure," and leptin resistance occurs when this hormone stops properly functioning. When leptin is present, it naturally has the effect of decreasing food intake, so leptin resistance can often lead to overeating and subsequent obesity.

Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar compound (primarily in fruits), but is also used commonly as an added ingredient in the form of high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar. It's been speculated that increased global fructose consumption is partially responsible for rising obesity rates, but this study is the first to experimentally establish the connection.

The study was conducted on mice, whom were separated into two groups. Both groups were fed the same diets, but one group consumed high levels of fructose and the other ate none of the sugar compound.

After six months, the mice in both groups were observed to have similar levels of body fat and food intake. Tests demonstrated, however, that the mice in the high fructose group had developed leptin resistance. "The researchers discovered that the rats on the high-fructose diet were leptin resistant, that is, they did not lower their food intake when given leptin. The no-fructose animals responded normally to leptin by eating less."

The fact that leptin resistance developed without obesity was unexpected. "Usually, leptin resistance is associated with obesity, but in this case, leptin resistance developed without obesity," says study researcher Dr. Alexandra Shapiro.

The next stage was to transition both groups of mice to high fat diets. The leptin resistant (high fructose) mice ate significantly more, and gained a lot more weight, than the non leptin resistant mice, which was to be expected.

Establishing the connection between high fructose consumption and obesity is an important step in attacking this global epidemic. Obesity is strongly associated with numerous serious conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, that can often result in death. While further human studies should be conducted to better affirm these results, Dr. Shapiro speculates that "this study may explain how the global increase in fructose consumption is related to the current obesity epidemic."

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Shapiro, Alexandra. Guilfoy, Christine. The American Physiological Society press release. October 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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