A spoon full of sugar might help the medicine go down, but it is said to have a negative effect on a person’s brain. When consumed, fructose, a popular sugar found in much of the American diet, stimulates changes in the brain causing a person to impulsively overeat.
In a recent study conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), scientists found an association between fructose consumption and weight gain. The study, which took place at Yale University of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., consisted of 20 healthy adult participants who underwent two magnetic resonance imaging sessions of the brain while blindly ingesting fructose or glucose drinks at “random order in a cross-over design.” The main outcome measured the “relative changes in hypothalamic regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) after glucose or fructose ingestion.”
Fructose, or its relative high-fructose corn syrup, is a main ingredient added to many processed foods and beverages in the American diet. With an overwhelming number of adults obese in the U.S., this study showed that when consuming fructose, the brain doesn’t register a “feeling of being full” like glucose does. Since sugars metabolize differently in the body, they aren’t equal. High-fructose corn syrup consists of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose while sucrose, otherwise referred to as “table sugar,” is respectively half and half.
According to the JAMA, the secondary outcome of the study included “whole-brain analyses to explore regional CBF changes, functional connectivity analysis to investigate correlations between the hypothalamus and other brain region responses, and hormone responses to fructose and glucose ingestion.” The scans showed that glucose consumption increased the connectivity between the appetite and reward regions of the brain unlike the advert affects of fructose. “As a result, the desire to eat continues—it isn’t turned off,” said Dr. Robert Sherwin, an endocrinologist at Yale University who took part in the study said in a New York Times’ article. This concludes that fructose triggered a greater food intake and weight gain as it relates to the brain.
The study will go on to test obese adults to see if the same results from fructose compared to glucose persists.
While the study, relevantly small, revealed a risk that nutritionists have been promoting, others are critical of the study’s outcome. Industry members dismissed the link between fructose consumption and weight gain saying the study doesn’t add any evidence worth noting. But doctors believe that no matter what, Americans are eating too much sugar in all forms.