Do Fructose-Containing Sugars Lead to Adverse Health Consequences? Results of Recent Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Sugars have replaced fat as the dominant public health nutrition concern. A fructose-centric view of cardiometabolic disease has emerged whereby fructose-containing sugars are thought to have deleterious effects on body weight, fasting and postprandial blood lipids, glycemia, blood pressure, uric acid, and markers of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Long-term prospective cohort studies have not supported these associations when assessing the relation between total fructose-containing sugars at any amount of intake and incident cardiometabolic disease. Conversely, a consistent signal for harm has been reported for sugary beverages when comparing the highest with the lowest intakes. These associations, however, do not hold at moderate intakes, which are more reflective of real-world intakes, are subject to important collinearity effects, and have small risk estimates with modest population-attributable risk fractions. Higher-level evidence from controlled feeding trials shows that fructose-containing sugars in either liquid or solid form have adverse cardiometabolic effects only when they supplement diets with excess calories compared with the same diets without the excess calories. In the absence of harm when fructose-containing sugars are exchanged for other sources of carbohydrate under energy-matched conditions, excess calories appear to be the dominant consideration. Like with the earlier fat story, it is difficult to separate the contribution of fructose-containing sugars from that of other sources of excess calories in the epidemic of obesity and cardiometabolic disease. Attention needs to remain focused on reducing the overconsumption of all caloric foods associated with obesity and cardiometabolic disease, including sugary beverages and foods, and promoting greater physical activity.

authors

publication date

  • July 1, 2015