Soda consumers may be drinking more fructose than labels reveal

June 4, 2014

Soda consumers may be getting a much higher dose of the harmful sugar fructose than they have been led to believe, according to a new study by the Childhood Obesity Research Center (CORC) at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), part of Keck Medicine of USC.

In the study, published online June 3, 2014 in the journal Nutrition, Keck School of Medicine researchers analyzed the chemical composition of 34 popular beverages, finding that beverages and juices made with (HFCS), such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew and Sprite, all contain 50 percent more than glucose, a blend that calls into question claims that sugar and HFCS are essentially the same.

"We found what ends up being consumed in these beverages is neither natural sugar nor HFCS, but instead a fructose-intense concoction that could increase one's risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease," said Michael Goran, Ph.D., director of the CORC and lead author of the study. "The human body isn't designed to process this form of sugar at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat."

The Corn Refiners Association, a trade group representing HFCS producers, has long argued that HFCS is only negligibly different than natural sugar (sucrose), which is made up of equal parts of fructose and glucose. Goran's analysis of beverages made with HFCS, however, showed a fructose to glucose ratio of 60:40—considerably higher than the equal proportions found in sucrose and challenging the industry's claim that "sugar is sugar."

The research also shows that the ingredients on some product labels do not represent their fructose content. For example, Goran's team found that the label on Pepsi Throwback indicates it is made with real sugar (sucrose) yet the analysis demonstrated that it contains more than 50 percent fructose. Sierra Mist, Gatorade and Mexican Coca-Cola also have higher concentrations of fructose than implied by their label. This suggests that these beverages might contain HFCS, which is not disclosed on their labels.

The research team purchased beverages based on product popularity and had them analyzed for sugar composition in three different laboratories using three different methods. The results were consistent across the different methods and yielded an average composition of 60 percent fructose and 40 percent glucose in made with HFCS.

Americans consume more HFCS per capita than any other nation and consumption has doubled over the last three decades. Diabetes rates have tripled in the same period. Much of this increase is directly linked to sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks.

"Given that Americans drink 45 gallons of soda a year, it's important for us to have a more accurate understanding of what we're actually drinking, including specific label information on the types of sugars," said Goran.

Explore further: New study finds neither HFCS nor table sugar increases liver fat under 'real world' conditions

More information: Walker, R.W., Dumke, K.A., Goran, M. I. (2014). Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high fructose corn syrup. Nutrition . Published online June 3, 2014; dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2014.04.003 . www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S0899900714001920

Related Stories

New study finds neither HFCS nor table sugar increases liver fat under 'real world' conditions

February 12, 2013
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism presented compelling data showing the consumption of both high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (table sugar) at levels consistent with ...

Researchers look at effects of two common sweeteners on the body

January 23, 2012
With growing concern that excessive levels of fructose may pose a great health risk – causing high blood pressure, kidney disease and diabetes – researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, along ...

Study finds high fructose corn syrup-global prevalence of diabetes link

November 27, 2012
A new study by University of Southern California (USC) and University of Oxford researchers indicates that large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in national food supplies across the world may be one explanation ...

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.

Recommended for you

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LaPortaMA
not rated yet Jun 04, 2014
Fructose is NOT harmful. Overconsumption is harmful; but what isn't?

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.