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Fructose Contribution Towards Diabetes and ObesityEssay

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Evidence Linking Dietary Fructose to Obesity and Diabetes

Critically discuss the evidence that links dietary fructose with obesity and diabetes

The major carbohydrate found in fruits is referred to as fructose. Fructose is a ketonic monosaccharide that is found in plants, which is bonded with glucose to form disaccharide sucrose. Fructose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Majority of the commercially available fructose is derived from sugar beets, sugar cane, and corn. Some of the dietary fructose consumed is derived from fruits, but most is derived from sugar, and foods that have added sucrose. The main reason for this is that is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Unlike glucose, fructose does not induce satisfaction, which means the person can consume large amounts of fructose-induced foods. Cakes, desserts, chocolate, sweetened beverages, sports drinks, and carbonated soft drinks contain large amounts of fructose (House of Commons Health Committee). Natural fruit juice also contains high quantities of fructose. When a person is consuming foods rich in fructose, they will most likely consume more than required because the food would not satisfy their hunger. This would automatically lead to addition of weight, as people would be overeating most of the time. The rise of obesity has been parallel with the increase in consumption of soft drinks containing fructose. In fruits, fructose is the food marker, but for sweets and soft drinks, it serves to rewards the consumers sweet taste. Fructose satisfies the sweet taste by providing calories and nothing else in terms of nutrition. It has been established that fructose has adverse and severe effects on a person's health, which could lead to alarming levels of chronic diseases like some cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Fructose has also been closely linked with obesity, which is the main contributor for diabetes. Naturally, derived fructose from whole fruits provides the body with a different metabolic effect in comparison to the fructose added to foods, mainly because of dietary fibers found in whole fruits. Since fruit juices do not have dietary fiber, the fructose contained in the juices could be harmful.

Fructose link to obesity

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an alternative to sucrose that is used in many beverages and foods. HFCS was developed in the 1950s, and the first commercial product was shipped in the late 1960s. For a long time, people assumed HFCS was metabolized, in the same way, as sucrose. This is not the case, because HFCS does not stimulate the secretion of insulin or increase the production of leptin. Leptin and insulin are key to regulating food intake and body weight (Bray, Nielsen and Popkin). Without the stimulation of leptin and insulin secretion, a person would increase their energy intake and gain weight, which in most cases results in obesity. The ease of its availability has made HFCS a preferred alternative to sucrose. The table below shows the composition of different sweeteners currently found in the market.




Corn syrup



Invert sugar






























It has been established that one sports drink, or soft drink contains 20 ounces of HFCS, and on average a person will consume two drinks daily it is clear that HFCS does contribute towards obesity within the country (Bray, Nielsen and Popkin). This is enough evidence that dietary fructose does contribute towards increase in obesity levels. Fructose is mostly converted into fat by the liver, which leads to increased body fat. Obesity is caused by accumulation of excess body fat. Considering that, the body does not readily absorb fructose like glucose one can see that the more one consumes foods and beverages high in fructose the more likely they will add weight and become obese.

Figure 1: Percentage change in the daily caloric intake of the nutrient groups

According to Wylie-Rosett, Segal-Isaacson and Segal-Isaacson, the type of carbohydrate that a person consumes has an effect on their overall body weight. Wylie-Rosett, Segal-Isaacson and Segal-Isaacson posits that in the past 30 years there has been a steady rise in the rate of obesity in developed countries. This increase in obesity levels has coincided with the replacement of sucrose with fructose in processed foods. The development of fructose derived from corn is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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