Fructose, the sweetener used in soft drinks, baked goods and juice drinks, might be the key factor for the increase in obesity across the United States, scientists said. Consumption of fructose does not trigger responses in hormones that regulate appetite and energy use and is more likely to be converted into fat, a study conducted by Lousiana-based Pennington Biomedical Research Centre reveals.
"The increased use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the US since the mid-1980s mirrors the rapid increase in obesity," according to the study led by George A Bray, report timesofindia.com
Obesity among American adults climbed from 23 percent in the early 1990s to 30 percent today, according to the U.S. De-partment of Health and Human Services. And with two-thirds of Americans over-weight, that means increased risks for heart disease, diabe-tes and certain cancers.
The debate over high-fruc-tose sweeteners centers on how the body processes sugar. Unlike glucose, a major compo-nent in table sugar, fructose doesn't trigger responses in hormones that regulate energy use and appetite. That means fructose is more likely to be converted into fat, the re-searchers said.
The report, which says more study is needed, also lays blame on people for eating more and exercising less, inform newsday.com
Almost 65% of Americans are either overweight or obese today, compared to 47% in the 1970s. Experts believe this is due to many factors including less physical activity, larger portion sizes, high-fat fare and the availability of food everywhere.
High-fructose corn syrup, which is cheaper to produce than sugars from cane and beets, began being more widely used in the late 1980s and 1990s when Americans' weight started creeping up, says Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
"We know from animal and human clinical studies that fructose doesn't affect appetite," Popkin says. "So if you drink a soft drink, you don't get filled up like you would if you drank milk." This means that if you were hungry when you consumed the drink you would need to consume additional calories from some other food or beverage, he says, according to usatoday.com