The sweetener fructose, a cheap sugar substitute found in thousands of processed foods and soft drinks, may be increasing childhood diabetes and the obesity crisis, new findings suggest.
In a study by researchers at the University of California, 16 volunteers were put on a controlled diet with high-levels of fructose – a sweetener derived from corn.
After 10 weeks, the volunteers had developed more fat cells around the heart, liver and other major organs as well as showing signs of food processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Another group of volunteers, who were also on a controlled diet but without the fructose, did not show the fat cell increase or the food processing abnormalities.
Both groups put on the same amount of weight.
Children are said to be in a higher risk group as they are more likely to eat products with high-levels of sweeteners over longer periods of time.
“This is the first evidence we have that fructose increases diabetes and heart disease independently from causing simple weight gain,” Kimber Stanhope, a molecular biologist who led the study, told a Sunday newspaper.