The effect of fructose on cardiometabolic risk in humans is controversial. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials to clarify the effect of fructose on glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library (through 22 March 2012) for relevant trials lasting ≥7 days. Data were aggregated by the generic inverse variance method (random-effects models) and expressed as mean difference (MD) for fasting glucose and insulin and standardized MD (SMD) with 95% CI for glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycated albumin. Heterogeneity was assessed by the Cochran Q statistic and quantified by the I2 statistic. Trial quality was assessed by the Heyland methodological quality score (MQS).
Eighteen trials (n = 209) met the eligibility criteria. Isocaloric exchange of fructose for carbohydrate reduced glycated blood proteins (SMD −0.25 [95% CI −0.46 to −0.04]; P = 0.02) with significant intertrial heterogeneity (I2 = 63%; P = 0.001). This reduction is equivalent to a ∼0.53% reduction in HbA1c. Fructose consumption did not significantly affect fasting glucose or insulin. A priori subgroup analyses showed no evidence of effect modification on any end point.
Isocaloric exchange of fructose for other carbohydrate improves long-term glycemic control, as assessed by glycated blood proteins, without affecting insulin in people with diabetes. Generalizability may be limited because most of the trials were <12 weeks and had relatively low MQS (<8). To confirm these findings, larger and longer fructose feeding trials assessing both possible glycemic benefit and adverse metabolic effects are required.