Health And Wellness

Hometown Hall Study: Consuming added sugar means change in metabolism

By Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren 


A study of healthy men revealed how added sugar doubles fat production.

Researchers have discovered that even moderate amounts of added fructose and sucrose can double the body’s liver fat production.

In the U.S., adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends men limit added sugar consumption to 36 grams a day and women should keep their added daily sugar intake to 25 grams.

But in a randomized controlled trial of 94 healthy men, researchers at the University of Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich found that high amounts of sugar don’t have to be consumed for a change in metabolism to show.

The study’s findings were published earlier this month in the Journal of Hepatology

“Eighty grams of sugar daily, which is equivalent to about 0.8 liters of a normal soft drink, boosts fat production in the liver. And the overactive fat production continues for a longer period of time, even if no more sugar is consumed,” lead study author Philipp Gerber of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition said in a press release.

During the study, participants consumed a drink sweetened with different types of sugar. They did so daily for seven weeks. Meanwhile, the control group did not. Drinks consumed contained either fructose, glucose or sucrose. Fructose is naturally found in fruit, honey, agave and many root vegetables. Glucose is a simple sugar that is the body’s preferred carbohydrate energy source and sucrose is table sugar, which is a mix of fructose and glucose.

After the drinks were consumed, researchers used tracers that can be tracked as they move through the body to evaluate how the sugary drinks affected lipid metabolism, or the breakdown or storage of fats for energy.

Participants generally did not consume more calories than before the study. This is because consuming sugary beverages boosted sanitation and decreased calorie intake from other sources. But researchers saw a negative effect resulted from drinking fructose beverages.

“The body’s own fat production in the liver was twice as high in the fructose group as in the glucose group or the control group — and this was still the case more than twelve hours after the last meal or sugar consumption,” Gerber said.

“Our results are a critical step in researching the harmful effects of added sugars and will be very significant for future dietary recommendations,” he concluded.