In the U.S. between 1970 and 1990, consumption of high fructose corn syrup increased over 1000%. During those two decades, the incidence of overweight and obesity nearly doubled. Many wonder if this is more than just coincidental. Most of this fructose is in soft drinks. Soft drink consumption per person in 1942 was two servings per week. In 2000, consumption was two servings per day. Of course, these drinks typically have few nutrients other than sugars.
We know that children’s consumption of high fructose corn syrup has increased dramatically. We know that atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) begins in childhood. We know that atherosclerosis complications are associated with small LDL cholesterol particle size. A recent study in 74 Swiss schoolchildren found that high fructose intake reduces LDL particle size, potentially increasing their future risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks. We have learned over the last 10 years that dietary trans fats (aka partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) promote atherosclerosis. That’s why the American Heart Association and others are working to reduce consumption of trans fats. Connecting the dots, it’s starting to look like high fructose corn syrup may be the new trans fat. As they say, “additional studies are needed.” We may have a definitive answer in 10-20 years, but what do we do in 2008?
No worries, mate. Both the traditional Mediterranean and Advanced Mediterranean diets are naturally low in fructose compared with today’s typical Western diet.
[Thanks to George Bray at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center for bringing this to my attention.]
- Steve Parker, M.D.
Author of The Advanced Mediterrranean Diet
Bray, George A. How bad is fructose? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86 (2007): 895-896.
Aeberli, I, et al. Fructose intake is a predictor of LDL particle size in overweight schoolchildren. America Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86 (2007): 1174-1178.
Vartanian, L.R, et al. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 97 (2007): 667-675