Photo: Michael Goran, Ph.D.
reigns as the single largest contributor to America’s rapidly expanding waistlines,
research released in October shows that the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
used to sweeten America’s most popular beverages is delivering a megadose of
fructose (a sweeter and more harmful form of sugar), far higher than previously
at the USC Childhood Obesity Research Center at the Keck School of Medicine of USC analyzed
the sugar profiles of 23 popular sodas and discovered surprising information
about the amount of fructose in the drinks. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, the findings show that
the HFCS (a mixture of glucose and fructose produced from corn) in popular
sodas may be as high as 65 percent fructose, nearly 20 percent higher than
elevated fructose levels in the sodas most Americans drink are of particular
concern because of the negative effects fructose has on the body,” explained
study author Michael Goran, Ph.D., professor in the departments of preventive medicine, physiology and biophysics, and pediatrics at the Keck School. “Unlike glucose (the smaller component of
HFCS), over consumption of fructose is directly responsible for a broad
spectrum of negative health effects.”
weight gain caused by sugary sodas can dramatically increase the risk for type
2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But, as Goran points out, because the
body processes fructose differently than glucose, consuming large amounts of
fructose greatly exacerbates the risk for those diseases by also causing fatty
liver disease, insulin resistance, increased triglyceride levels and an acute
rise in blood pressure.
average American drinks over 50 gallons of soda a year, ingesting about 34
pounds of sugar. Over the past 30 years, the jump in consumption of soda
accounts for 43 percent of the per capita increase in daily caloric intake,
making it the prime driver behind the obesity epidemic.
the huge amount of soda Americans consume, it’s important that we have a more
exact understanding of what we’re drinking, including specific label information
on the types of sugars. The lack of information – or perhaps even
misinformation – we have had about the fructose levels in HFCS-sweetened
beverages means that soda drinkers may be gambling with their health even more
than we have previously thought,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein, director of the
California Center for Public Health Advocacy.
study also raises questions about the accuracy of nutrition label reporting by
manufacturers. When testing the Mexican Coca-Cola that lists “sugar” on the ingredient
list, for instance, the researchers did not detect any sucrose (traditional
sugar) but rather found near equal amounts of fructose and glucose, results
which suggest the use of HFCS.
full study, Sugar
content of popular sweetened beverages based on objective laboratory analysis:
focus on fructose content, was published
in October in the journal Obesity. A
full-text of the study can be found at http://goranlab.com/research_news/index.html.
University of Southern California’s Childhood Obesity Research Center is a
collaborative effort between USC and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Home to
one of the nation’s leading research teams addressing childhood obesity, the
Center strives to understand childhood obesity and its related conditions, to
examine its relationship to minority health, and to develop novel strategies
for prevention and treatment.