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Potential Health Risks From Beverages Containing Fructose Found in Sugar or High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Fructose is a sweet tasting sugar that is found naturally in fruits and some vegetables and has been part of the human diet—in modest amounts—for eons. The increasing consumption of sugar has dramatically increased our exposure to fructose (). Sugar consumption has risen more than 40-fold since the Declaration of Independence was signed 250 years ago, and more than 40% of the added sugars in our diet are in sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit drinks (,). Thus, the principal sources of fructose in our diet are now sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, each of which has about 50% fructose. The intake of soft drinks has risen fivefold since 1950 (,) () and with it the intake of fructose. The rise in the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages has paralleled the rise in the prevalence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome and is associated with the appearance of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (–). Although association does not prove causation, it has stimulated research to understand whether current levels of fructose intake in beverages pose a health risk.
COMMENT: This is the opening paragraph of a commentary by George Bray on the metabolic effects of high-fructose corn syrup. I would urge you to read the entire article and the study in the same issue of Diabetes Care cited in this commentary. The controversy regarding high-fructose corn syrup is unlikely to go away soon. We clinicians need to be informed and expect that our patients, especially parents are going to ask us about the advisability of drinking such beverages or serving them to their children. I also would like to hear your views on the topic.