Sugar intake is not directly related to liver disease

Despite current beliefs, sugar intake is not directly associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. Rather, high-calorie diets promote the progression of this serious form of liver disease.

Researchers conducted a double-blind study of healthy, but centrally overweight men to compare the effects of high intakes of two types of sugar, glucose and fructose, in two conditions—weight-maintaining (moderate-calorie diet) and weight-gaining (high-calorie diet). In the weight-maintaining period, men on neither diet developed any significant changes to the liver. However, in the weight-gaining period, both diets produced equivalent features of , including steatosis (fatty liver) and elevated serum transaminase and triglycerides. These findings indicate that fructose and glucose have comparable effects on one's liver, and is the factor responsible for the progression of liver disease.

"Based on the results of our study, recommending a low-fructose or low-glycemic diet to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is unjustified," said Professor Ian A. Macdonald, study author and faculty of medicine and health sciences, University of Nottingham, UK. "The best advice to give a patient is to maintain a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise. Our study serves as a warning that even short changes in lifestyle can have profound impacts on your liver."

During the period of increased calorie intake, all study participants experienced significant increases in body weight, waist circumference and total body fat, as expected. Interestingly, satiety was unaltered in spite of weight gain during the high-calorie diet; this reinforces the notion of "hidden calories" in drinks since participants consumed a portion of their calories in liquid form.

Fructose is a simple sugar commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Glucose, also known as grape or blood sugar, is present in all major carbohydrates, such as starch and table sugar.

Nonalcoholic , the most prevalent liver problem in the U.S. and most Western countries, is the buildup of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. For more on how a low-calorie is the best prescription for this form of , read the article "NAFLD Treatment: Is there More to Talk About Other than Diet and Exercise?" from the October/November issue of AGA Perspectives, the AGA Institute's most prominent non-scientific publication.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

6 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

12 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

18 hours ago

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments