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Concept: High-fructose corn syrup


Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome, and its rising prevalence parallels the rise in obesity and diabetes. Historically thought to result from overnutrition and sedentary lifestyle, recent evidence suggests that diets high in sugar (from sucrose and/or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)) not only increases the risk for NAFLD, but also, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Here we review the experimental and clinical evidence that fructose precipitates fat accumulation in the liver, due to both increased lipogenesis and impaired fat oxidation. Recent evidence suggests that the predisposition to fatty liver is linked with metabolism of fructose by fructokinase C, resulting in ATP consumption, nucleotide turnover and uric acid generation that mediate fat accumulation. Alterations in gut permeability, microbiome, and associated endotoxemia contributes to the risk of NAFLD and NASH. Early clinical studies suggest that reducing sugary beverages and total fructose intake, especially from added sugars, may have a significant benefit on reducing hepatic fat accumulation. We suggest larger, more definitive trials to determine if lowering sugar/HFCS intake, and/or blocking uric acid generation, may help reduce NAFLD and its downstream complications of cirrhosis and chronic liver disease.

Concepts: Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Nutrition, Fructose, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Obesity, Metabolic syndrome, Fatty liver


Abstract The overall aim of this study was to evaluate, from a global and ecological perspective, the relationships between availability of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Using published resources, country-level estimates (n=43 countries) were obtained for: total sugar, HFCS and total calorie availability, obesity, two separate prevalence estimates for diabetes, prevalence estimate for impaired glucose tolerance and fasting plasma glucose. Pearson’s correlations and partial correlations were conducted in order to explore associations between dietary availability and obesity and diabetes prevalence. Diabetes prevalence was 20% higher in countries with higher availability of HFCS compared to countries with low availability, and these differences were retained or strengthened after adjusting for country-level estimates of body mass index (BMI), population and gross domestic product (adjusted diabetes prevalence=8.0 vs. 6.7%, p=0.03; fasting plasma glucose=5.34 vs. 5.22 mmol/L, p=0.03) despite similarities in obesity and total sugar and calorie availability. These results suggest that countries with higher availability of HFCS have a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes independent of obesity.

Concepts: Glucose tolerance test, Fructose, Body mass index, Sucrose, Obesity, Corn syrup, Nutrition, High-fructose corn syrup


Cross-sectional studies have linked intake of high fructose corn syrup sweetened beverages with asthma in school children.

Concepts: High school, Fructose, Cross-sectional study, Starch, Syrup, Sweeteners, Corn syrup, High-fructose corn syrup


The incidence of obesity has increased dramatically over the past several years, and in parallel, so has the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Numerous studies have demonstrated that both obesity and T2D are associated with lower cognitive performance, cognitive decline, and dementia. Intake of dietary fructose has also increased. In fact, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) accounts for as much as 40% of caloric sweeteners used in the United States. Given the increase in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), characterized by an age-related decline in memory and cognitive functioning, in this report we review the effects of obesity on cognitive performance and the impact of high fructose intake in promoting cognitive decline. The paper then considers the effects of omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), which have been linked to promising results in cognitive function including ameliorating the impact of a high-fructose diet.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Corn syrup, Omega-3 fatty acid, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Cognition, Obesity, High-fructose corn syrup, Nutrition


Glyoxal, methylglyoxal, and diacetyl formed from sucrose alone and from a D-glucose/ammonia Mallard model system were analyzed by gas chromatography. They are known as precursors of 4(5)-MI. Glyoxal and methylglyoxal formed more in acidic conditions than in basic conditions, whereas diacetyl formed the most at the highest basic condition of pH 12. Glyoxal formation from sucrose ranged from 0.33 μg/g to 32.90 μg/g under four different time and temperature conditions. Amounts of glyoxal, methylglyoxal, and diacetyl formed in Maillard model systems ranged from 2.98 to 46.12 μg/mL, from 8.27 to 156.61 μg/mL, and from 14.94 to 1,588.45 μg/mL, respectively. 4(5)-MI formation in the same model systems ranged from 28.56 to 1,269.71 μg/mL. Addition of sodium sulfite reduced formation of these chemicals significantly. Total α-dicarbonyl compounds in 12 commercial soft drinks ranged from 5.75 to 50.72 μg/mL. 4(5)-MI was found in levels ranging from 1.76 to 28.11 ng/mL in 10 commercial soft drinks.

Concepts: PH, Sodium hydroxide, Sucrose, High-fructose corn syrup, Soft drink, Model organism, Model, Carbon dioxide


The American public is increasingly concerned about risks associated with food additives like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). To promote its product as safe, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) employed two forms of straw-person arguments. First, the CRA opportunistically misrepresented HFCS opposition as inept. Second, the CRA strategically chose to refute claims that were easier to defeat while remaining ambiguous about more complex points of contention. We argue that CRA’s discursive contributions represented unreasonable yet sustainable use of straw-person arguments in debates surrounding health and risk.

Concepts: Starch, Food additive, High-fructose corn syrup, Syrup, Sweeteners, Argumentation theory, Fallacy, Corn syrup


Recent attention has focused on fructose as having a unique role in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases. However, because we rarely consume fructose in isolation, the major source of fructose in the diet comes from fructose-containing sugars, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, in sugar-sweetened beverages and foods. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages has been consistently linked to increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in various populations. Putative underlying mechanisms include incomplete compensation for liquid calories, adverse glycemic effects, and increased hepatic metabolism of fructose leading to de novo lipogenesis, production of uric acid, and accumulation of visceral and ectopic fat. In this review we summarize the epidemiological and clinical trial evidence evaluating added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, and the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease and address potential biological mechanisms with an emphasis on fructose physiology. We also discuss strategies to reduce intake of fructose-containing beverages.

Concepts: Corn syrup, Diabetes mellitus, Sucrose, Glucose, Metabolic syndrome, High-fructose corn syrup, Fructose, Nutrition


Consumption of added sugar has increased over recent decades and is correlated with numerous diseases. Rodent models have elucidated mechanisms of toxicity, but only at concentrations beyond typical human exposure. Here we show that comparatively low levels of added sugar consumption have substantial negative effects on mouse survival, competitive ability, and reproduction. Using Organismal Performance Assays-in which mice fed human-relevant concentrations of added sugar (25% kcal from a mixture of fructose and glucose, modeling high fructose corn syrup) and control mice compete in seminatural enclosures for territories, resources and mates-we demonstrate that fructose/glucose-fed females experience a twofold increase in mortality while fructose/glucose-fed males control 26% fewer territories and produce 25% less offspring. These findings represent the lowest level of sugar consumption shown to adversely affect mammalian health. Clinical defects of fructose/glucose-fed mice were decreased glucose clearance and increased fasting cholesterol. Our data highlight that physiological adversity can exist when clinical disruptions are minor, and suggest that Organismal Performance Assays represent a promising technique for unmasking negative effects of toxicants.

Concepts: Sex, Fructose, Sugar, Corn syrup, Reproduction, Female, Male, High-fructose corn syrup


Whether dietary fructose (as sucrose or high fructose corn syrup) has unique effects separate from its role as carbohydrate, or, in fact, whether it can be considered inherently harmful, even a toxin, has assumed prominence in nutrition. Much of the popular and scientific media have already decided against fructose and calls for regulation and taxation come from many quarters. There are conflicting data, however. Outcomes attributed to fructose — obesity, high triglycerides and other features of metabolic syndrome — are not found in every experimental test and may be more reliably caused by increased total carbohydrate. In this review, we try to put fructose in perspective by looking at the basic metabolic reactions. We conclude that fructose is best understood as part of carbohydrate metabolism. The pathways of fructose and glucose metabolism converge at the level of the triose-phosphates and, therefore, any downstream effects also occur with glucose. In addition, a substantial part of ingested fructose is turned to glucose. Regulation of fructose metabolism per se, is at the level of substrate control — the lower Km of fructokinase compared to glucokinase will affect the population of triose-phosphates. Generally deleterious effects of administering fructose alone suggest that fructose metabolism is normally controlled in part by glucose. Because the mechanisms of fructose effects are largely those of a carbohydrate, one has to ask what the proper control should be for experiments that compare fructose to glucose. In fact, there is a large literature showing benefits in replacing total carbohydrate with other nutrients, usually fat, and such experiments sensibly constitute the proper control for comparisons of the two sugars. In terms of public health, a rush to judgement analogous to the fat-cholesterol-heart story, is likely to have unpredictable outcome and unintended consequences. Popular opinion cannot be ignored in this problem and comparing fructose to ethanol, for example, is without biochemical correlates. Also, nothing in the biochemistry suggests that sugar is a toxin. Dietary carbohydrate restriction remains the best strategy for obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The specific contribution of the removal of fructose or sucrose to this effect remains unknown.

Concepts: Enzyme, Glucose, Sugar, High-fructose corn syrup, Fructose, Carbohydrate, Sucrose, Nutrition


This study explored whether different ratios of fructose (F) and glucose (G) in sugar can engender significant differences in self-administration and associated neurobiological and physiological responses in male Sprague-Dawley rats. In Experiment 1, animals self-administered pellets containing 55% F + 45% G or 30% F + 70% G, and Fos immunoreactivity was assessed in hypothalamic regions regulating food intake and reward. In Experiment 2, rats self-administered solutions of 55% F + 42% G (high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)), 50% F + 50% G (sucrose) or saccharin, and mRNA of the dopamine 2 (D2R) and mu-opioid (MOR) receptor genes were assessed in striatal regions involved in addictive behaviors. Finally, in Experiment 3, rats self-administered HFCS and sucrose in their home cages, and hepatic fatty acids were quantified. It was found that higher fructose ratios engendered lower self-administration, lower Fos expression in the lateral hypothalamus/arcuate nucleus, reduced D2R and increased MOR mRNA in the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens core, respectively, as well as elevated omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the liver. These data indicate that a higher ratio of fructose may enhance the reinforcing effects of sugar and possibly lead to neurobiological and physiological alterations associated with addictive and metabolic disorders.

Concepts: Substantia nigra, Fructose, Nucleus accumbens, Striatum, Dopamine, Ventral tegmental area, Nutrition, High-fructose corn syrup