Fructose, but not glucose, found to reduce fat-burning and metabolic rate

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There’s no doubt about it, fructose has got itself an increasingly bad reputation in nutritional circles over the last few years, and has been linked with all sorts of ills including obesity, type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of heart disease. This week saw the publication of a study which further points a finger of suspicion towards fructose.

This particular study pitted fructose against glucose [1], and is reminiscent of another study I wrote about in June here which found that fructose, weight for weight, worsened disease markers more than glucose. This more recent research involved feeding overweight and obese men and women fructose- or glucose-sweetened drinks for 10 weeks. Total amount of sugar represented 25 per cent of total energy requirements. So, someone who typically consumes 2,000 calories a day would have consumed 500 calories-worth or 125 grams of sugar.

The study participants were assessed with a range of measurements including:

  1. fat oxidation (metabolism) after eating
  2. resting energy expenditure (basal metabolic rate)

The results showed that consuming fructose led to a significant reduction in both fat oxidation after eating and resting energy expenditure. These reductions were not, however, seen with glucose consumption. These findings suggest that, gram for gram, fructose has more fattening potential than glucose.

Admittedly, the amount of fructose consumed in this experiment was quite large (roughly equivalent to 3 cans each day or soda/soft drink). Nevertheless, the study does provide further evidence that fructose can harm health, and is generally more damaging in this respect than glucose.


1. Cox CL, et al.Consumption of fructose-sweetened beverages for 10 weeks reduces net fat oxidation and energy expenditure in overweight/obese men and women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication 28 September 2011

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