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08-01-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Fructose intake linked to cardiometabolic risk markers in adolescence


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MedWire News: Adolescents who consume high levels of fructose tend to display a raft of cardiometabolic risk markers such as high systolic blood pressure and elevated C-reactive protein, study results show.

However, this relationship appears to be dependent on visceral obesity, in keeping with a previous study showing that fructose but not glucose-sweetened beverages contribute to visceral fat development.

"With increasing use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in processed foods and soft drinks, additional research is needed to assess the long-term implications of increasing fructose consumption on cardiometabolic disease risk in youth," Norman Pollock (Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, USA) and colleagues comment in the Journal of Nutrition.

Between 1977 and 2004 consumption of fructose in the USA has increased on average by 32% across all gender and age groups, due in part to the increasing use of HFCS.

The extent to which increased fructose consumption is related to adiposity and metabolic dysregulation is uncertain and relevant studies have yielded discordant findings.

Because absorbed sucrose is hydrolysed into free fructose and free glucose before it arrives at the liver for metabolism, it is important to consider the additional free fructose from sucrose when determining the overall effect of fructose on health-related outcomes.

In the current study Pollock et al examined the relationship of total fructose intake (free fructose + 50% of free sucrose) with cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes markers in 559 adolescents (55% White, 45% Black) aged 14-18 years.

Fasting blood samples were obtained and diet was assessed with recalls. Subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were assessed using magnetic resonance imaging.

Multiple linear regression analysis revealed a significant, positive correlation between fructose intake and systolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and C-reactive protein.

However, when VAT was included in the model as a covariate the relationships were completely lost.

"A diet chronically high in fructose may lead to greater visceral fat accumulation due to the increased exposure to triglyceride and remnant lipoproteins," Pollock et al speculate.

"Our finding that fructose consumption was positively correlated with measures of insulin resistance may indicate decreased removal from the blood, increased fasting glycogenolysis, or the beginnings of insulin resistance in our otherwise healthy adolescent sample."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Andrew Czyzewski