Why is Fructose Fattening?

The documentation as well as research supports a major concern for the overuse of dietary introduction of fructose as a sweetener. Many dietary experts believe that sweeteners containing fructose, mostly in the form of “high fructose corn syrup”, directly correlates to the nation’s growing obesity epidemic when added to processed foods. Now, new research at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) demonstrates that the brain – which serves as a master control for body weight – reacts differently to fructose compared with another common sweetener, glucose. The research is published in the online edition of the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and will appear in the March print edition.

“We know from animal models that the brain responds uniquely to different nutrients and that these responses can determine how much they eat,” said Jonathan Purnell, M.D., an associate professor of medicine (endocrinology, diabetes and clinical nutrition) in the OHSU School of Medicine. He went on to say, “With newer technologies such as functional MRI, we can examine how brain activity in humans reacts when exposed to, say, carbohydrates or fats.  What we’ve found in this case is that the brain’s response to fructose is very different to the response to glucose, which is less likely to promote weight gain.”

Real time brain activity is observed thru Functional. This research study involved nine normal-weight human study subjects and were imaged as they received an infusion of fructose, glucose or a saline solution. When the resulting brain scans from these three groups were compared, the scientists observed distinct differences.

Brain activity in the hypothalamus, one brain area involved in regulating food intake, was not affected by either fructose or glucose.  However, activity in the cortical brain control areas showed the opposite response during infusions of the sugars.  Activity in these areas was inhibited when fructose was given but activated during glucose infusion.

This is an important finding because these control brain areas included sites that are thought to be important in determining how we respond to food taste, smells, and pictures, which the American public is bombarded with daily. Being that our society eats primarily for taste and or smell, we are setting ourselves up for failure in being able to resist over eating.

“This study provides evidence in humans that fructose and glucose elicits opposite responses in the brain. It supports the animal research that shows similar findings and links fructose with obesity,” added Purnell. He also added, “For consumers, our findings support current recommendations that people be conscious of sweeteners added to their drinks and meals and not overindulge on high-fructose processed foods.”

In conclusion, these findings support the theory that we need to be absolutely sure of all the ingredients within our foods before we consume them. So, be sure to check each and every label of all packaged foods you purchase and drop those that have any amount of High Fructose Corn Syrup or Fructose of any kind. If you look closely at your labels, you will find that most packaged foods do contain fructose of one type or another resulting in an increased craving for it and a greater chance of obesity.


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