Fructose not responsible for increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

February 26, 2014

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common chronic liver disease in developed countries, affecting up to 30 per cent of their populations.

Since the disease is closely linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, there's a growing debate in the medical community about whether diet plays a role in its development, specifically the consumption of .

The possible link to non-alcoholic has become the main criticism against fructose among those who believe there is something unique about the fructose molecule or the way it is metabolized and blame it for the obesity epidemic.

A meta-analysis of all available human trials published today in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition says fructose in and of itself is not to blame for the increase in non-alcoholic fatty .

But excess consumption of calories can contribute to the disease, regardless of whether those calories came from fructose or other carbohydrates, said the lead author, Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital.

"The one thing fructose is supposed to do above all else is give you fatty liver disease, which some say is a starting point for metabolic syndrome—a term used to describe a group of conditions that puts people at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other heart-related problems—and Type 2 diabetes itself," Dr. Sievenpiper said.

"But we found it behaves no differently than glucose or refined starches. It is only when you consume excess calories in the form of fructose that you see a signal for harm but no more harm than if you consume excess calories as glucose."

Fructose, which is naturally found in fruit, vegetables and honey, is a simple sugar that together with glucose forms sucrose, the basis of table sugar. It is also found in sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, the two most common sweeteners in commercially prepared foods.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one cause of a fatty liver, occurring when fat is deposited in the liver. Unlike , it is not due to excessive alcohol use.

Previous research by Dr. Sievenpiper has found that fructose by itself does not cause weight gain and does not itself have any impact on an emerging marker for the risk of cardiovascular disease known as postprandial triglycerides when it is substituted for other carbohydrates. It is when fructose is overconsumed providing excess calories that you see the adverse effects on health, but no more than when other carbohydrates are overconsumed.

A study he published in the February issue of Current Opinion in Lipidology also found no benefit in replacing fructose with glucose in commercially prepared foods. That research again showed that that when portion sizes and calories are the same, fructose does not cause any more harm than glucose.

"The debate over the role of fructose in obesity, fatty liver and other metabolic diseases has distracted us from the issue of overconsumption," Dr. Sievenpiper said. "Our data should serve to remind people that the excess calories, whether they are from fructose or other sources, are the issue."

Explore further: New study finds no reason to replace fructose with glucose

Related Stories

New study finds no reason to replace fructose with glucose

January 31, 2014
Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital have found there is no benefit in replacing fructose, the sugar most commonly blamed for obesity, with glucose in commercially prepared foods.

Researchers say fructose does not impact emerging indicator for cardiovascular disease

December 30, 2013
Fructose, the sugar often blamed for the obesity epidemic, does not itself have any impact on an emerging marker for the risk of cardiovascular disease known as postprandial triglycerides, new research has found.

Is fructose being blamed unfairly for obesity epidemic?

February 21, 2012
Is fructose being unfairly blamed for the obesity epidemic? Or do we just eat and drink too many calories?

Researchers link obesity and the body's production of fructose

September 10, 2013
Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine reported today that the cause of obesity and insulin resistance may be tied to the fructose your body makes in addition to the fructose you eat.

New evidence in fructose debate: Could it be healthy for us?

June 21, 2012
A new study by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital suggests that fructose may not be as bad for us as previously thought and that it may even provide some benefit.

Sugar intake is not directly related to liver disease

November 1, 2013
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, ...

Recommended for you

Study finds walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 28, 2017
Research led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests ...

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.