Smoking gun on high fructose & fat?

July 28, 2008 9:24:59 AM PDT
Fructose, largely in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is found in everything from soda to salad dressings to spaghetti sauce. It's even in seemingly healthy foods, like low-fat yogurt.

Now, researchers at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center says there may be more evidence that high fructose corn syrup... contributes to obesity.

Dr. Elizabeth Parks, a processor of clinical nutrition, says her team has discovered that the body converts fructose to fat with what she calls "surprising speed."

Fructose, glucose, and sucrose (a mixture of fructose and sucrose) are all sugars found in food, but they all metabolize differently, as the body transforms them to triglycerides - a form of body fat.

When the body encounters glucose, the liver decides whether to burn it for energy, store it as glycogen, or turn it into triglycerides. When there's a lot of glucose, it is put aside for later.

On the other hand, when there's a lot of fructose, it bypasses the "traffic cop" mechanism and turns into fat. Dr. Parks' team says the fat conversion process is hard to stop once it starts.

She found that fructose eaten at breakfast was converted to fat within 4 hours, and it even changed the way the body handles fat at lunchtime.

High fructose corn syrup has been assailed in the past as contributing to obesity. However, the food industry has said all sugars are processed the same.

Dr. Parks is the lead author of the study, which is in the current issue of Journal of Nutrition.

Based on the study, Dr. Parks says if people lose weight on a low-carbohydrate diet, it may be because they cut down on the amount of fructose they consume. She says her team's findings indicate that the type of carbohydrate a person eats may be just as important in weight loss as the number of calories consumed.

Action News first raised questions about high fructose corn syrup... and obesity... several years ago in our special report, 'The Diet Destroyer.'