Is HFCS One of the Reasons for the Growing Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic?

A study has suggested that the high amounts of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) present in worldwide food supplies could be one of the reasons for the growing global type 2 diabetes epidemic.[1] Countries which make use of HFCS in their food supplies had a 20% greater prevalence of diabetes compared to countries that didn’t make use of HFCS. The study also showed that association of HFCS with the increase in the prevalence of diabetes happened independent of obesity levels and total sugar intake.

Out of 42 countries analyzed, the US has the highest per capita HFCS consumption. Countries having higher usage of HFCS had an average type 2 diabetes prevalence of 8% in comparison to 6.7% in countries not making use of HFCS.

The researchers suggest that this link is most likely driven by larger amounts of fructose in beverages and foods manufactured with HFCS. Glucose and fructose are both found in ordinary sugar in equal quantities, but HFCS has a higher percentage of fructose. The greater content of fructose makes HFCS sweeter and gives processed foods better appearance and greater stability.

In earlier research, it was revealed that the content of fructose in some soft drinks produced in the US was about 20% greater than expected, indicating that some manufacturers could be making use of HFCS with more fructose than previously thought. Such differences could be increasing fructose consumption in countries that make use of HFCS. It’s difficult to determine the exact amount of fructose in beverages and foods made with HFCS due to lack of disclosure on food labels.

Increasing evidence shows that fructose is metabolized by the body in a different way than glucose. Besides other factors, metabolism of fructose takes place independently of insulin, mainly in the liver where it can be readily converted to fat, probably contributing to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose Overload Infographic

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