Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

Soft Drink Sweetener May Raise Obesity Risks

Fructose May Trigger Hormonal Response That Promotes Weight Gain
By
WebMD Health News

June 9, 2004 -- All sweeteners may not be created equal when it comes to how they affect your weight.

New research suggests that fructose, a sweetener commonly used in soft drinks and found naturally in fruit juice, may induce a hormonal response in the body that promotes weight gain.

The study showed that drinking a fructose-sweetened beverage caused levels of the hormones insulin and leptin to be lower than those found after drinking a beverage sweetened with glucose, another natural sweetener.

Insulin and leptin are hormones that send information to the brain regarding the body's energy status and fat stores.

Researchers have previously linked low leptin levels to severe obesity, possibly due to increased appetite. They have also shown that a high-fat meal can lead to lower insulin and leptin levels.

Fructose also does not increase release of insulin and may lead to lower leptin levels. Thus, the researchers wanted to see if a high-fructose diet results in the same hormonal changes that result from a high-fat diet.

In addition, the study also showed that levels of another hormone called ghrelin, which is thought to stimulate appetite and normally declines after a meal, decreased less after drinking a fructose-sweetened beverage.

Fructose May Raise Obesity Risks

In the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers fed 12 normal-weight women standardized meals containing the same number of calories and distribution of total carbohydrate, fat, and protein on two days. On one day the meal included a beverage containing fructose, and on the other day the same beverage was sweetened with an equal amount of glucose.

Researchers collected blood samples from the women after each meal and found several major differences in how the body responded to the two different sweeteners.

Following meals containing the fructose-sweetened beverage compared with the other:

  • Leptin levels were lower (linked to increased appetite and weight gain) as were insulin levels.
  • Levels of the appetite-triggering hormone ghrelin decreased less.
  • Fatty molecules in the blood called triglycerides experienced a prolonged surge, which may raise the risk of heart disease.

Researchers say that taken together, the hormonal responses after drinking beverages containing fructose suggest that diets high in fructose may be one factor contributing to the current epidemic of obesity.

They estimate that fructose consumption has increased by 20%-30% over the last 30 years, a rate that is similar to the growth of obesity rates during the same period.

Even though fructose is found naturally in fruit juice, these findings would not likely apply to eating fruit. Other components of fruit, such as the fiber, would affect how the body handles fructose.

Researchers say more studies are needed to look at the long-term effects of fructose on appetite and energy.

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
Woman trying clothes / dress
Assessment
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections