Industry News | December 10, 2010

Added Sugars Don’t Cause Weight Gain, Says Study

Consuming fructose from added sugars at levels in the average American diet does not lead to weight gain or an increased risk for heart disease when part of a weight-stable diet, according to new data presented today at the American Heart Association's (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2010. The results mark the first time researchers have measured the effects of added sugars consumption on metabolic measures such as body weight, total cholesterol, and triglycerides levels, when consumed at levels typical of the general population.

The AHA recommends that men and women consume no more than 100 and 150 kcal of added sugars each day (equivalent to about 38 g/day), though more than 90 percent of Americans consume more than that amount with an average consumption rate of 219 kcal of added sugar each day (or about 55 g/day).[ii]

Table sugar (sucrose) is the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, followed by high fructose corn syrup (corn sugar). Sugar and high fructose corn syrup contain nearly the same one-to-one ratio of two simple sugars: fructose and glucose. Current sweetener research is confused by pure fructose vs. pure glucose comparisons - an artificial comparison that does not mimic human fructose exposure. This study is significant because it measures the metabolic impact of levels of added sugars consumed by most Americans.

"These findings demonstrate that added sugars, whether from table sugar or high fructose corn syrup (corn sugar), do not promote weight gain or increase total cholesterol, triglycerides, or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol when coupled with a balanced diet," says James Rippe, M.D., a cardiologist who is director of Lifestyle Medicine Initiative at Orlando Regional Healthcare and the study's chief investigator. "Although this study is not license to over-indulge, it does inform us that we can enjoy sugar in moderation as long as we are following a healthy lifestyle. That's an important take away for people like moms who may want to use added sweeteners to make healthy foods more attractive to their children."

In this double-blind study, researchers followed 64 overweight and obese people who were placed on a weight-stable diet for 10-weeks. The diet incorporated sucrose or high fructose corn syrup-sweetened low-fat milk, at 10% or 20% of calories, which represent the 25th and 50th percentile for adult fructose consumption levels (two to four times greater than AHA recommendations).

After 10 weeks, there was no change in body weight in the entire group. In addition, there were no changes in total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL(low-density lipoprotein, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol), apolipoprotein B (elevated levels of APOProtein B represent an increased risk for heart disease), or mean LDLparticle size. Group assignment also had no effect on HDL(high-density lipoprotein, often referred to as "good" cholesterol).

The research for this study was supported by an unrestricted grant from the Corn Refiners Association (CRA).

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