Fructose vs. Glucose: Not Much Difference

Fructose has a reputation for causing obesity, but replacing it with glucose doesn’t seem to make much difference.

The findings, published in the journal Current Opinion in Lipidology, show that when portion sizes and calories are the same, fructose does not cause any more harm than glucose.

“Despite concerns about fructose’s link to obesity, there is no justification to replace fructose with glucose because there is no evidence of net harm,” said Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s, in Toronto.

In the study, Sievenpiper and his fellow investigators analyzed existing data from previous trials and compared the effects of fructose and glucose for several health issues. Consuming fructose, their study found, could increase total cholesterol and post-eating triglycerides. But fructose didn’t seem to affect insulin production, other fat levels, or markers of fatty liver disease.

In fact, fructose showed potential benefits over glucose in some key risk factor categories.

“Some health care analysts have thought fructose to be the cause of obesity because it’s metabolized differently than glucose,” Sievenpiper said. “In calorie-matched conditions, we found that fructose may actually be better at promoting healthy body weight, blood pressure and glycemic control than glucose.”

Sievenpiper said he feels that overconsumption, rather than a type of sugar, is one of the leading causes of obesity.

“Overall, it’s not about swapping fructose with glucose,” said Sievenpiper. “Overeating, portion size and calories are what we should be refocusing on – they’re our biggest problems.”

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