Soft drinks made with high fructose corn syrup may have considerably more fructose than consumers are led to believe, which can lead to an increased risk of fatty liver disease, diabetes, and heart disease. A new study finds that beverages don’t accurately represent what the label says. Some beverages that are supposed to contain real sugar may not.
Researchers at the Childhood Obesity Center at the Keck School of Medicine found that consumers may be getting more fructose than they can handle.The study, published in the journal Nutrition, analyzed the chemical composition of 34 popular beverages made with high fructose corn syrup and found that some contain 50 percent more fructose than glucose.
“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.”
Groups like the Corn Refiners Association have long said that high fructose corn syrup and natural sugar were the same but this study calls that into question. It showed that while sugar is 50:50 fructose to glucose, high fructose corn syrup is 60:40.
Some drinks like Pepsi Throwback, Sierra Mist, and Mexican Coca-Cola which all claim to be made with real sugar, also had more fructose than glucose. Excess consumption of fructose can lead to metabolic disease.
Americans consume more high fructose corn syrup than any country in the world and we’re paying the price for it. According to the CDC, from 1980-2011, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes increased 176 percent nationwide and studies have shown that’s there a direct correlation between the increase of type 2 diabetes and consumption of sugar sweetened beverages. Fructose is also metabolized in such a way that fatty liver disease is also increasing. This is the term used to describe the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol.
“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.
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Image: Omar Wazir