Review Finds Fructose Not to Blame in Obesity Epidemic

A review paper by van Buul et al. has concluded that the current evidence does not link the consumption of fructose and fructose-containing sugars with the global obesity epidemic.

The researchers of this review article criticized the arguments of those who consider fructose a significant culprit of obesity as (1) generalizing data from studies in which excessive fructose intakes were used, (2) confusing the relative contents of glucose and fructose in processed foods/beverages, and (3) underestimating personal responsibility when it comes to diet and physical activity. . The researchers stated that much of the presumed association is based on correlation, meaning as products with fructose (especially high-fructose corn syrup) increased, obesity rates also increased. However, just because two things are increasing at the same time does not mean that these things are related.

After reviewing evidence on both positive and negative effects of fructose in humans and animals, the researchers concluded that, “current evidence on the metabolic effects of fructose, as consumed by the majority of populations, is insufficient to demonstrate such a role in metabolic diseases and the global obesity epidemic.” They also concluded that putting taxes on sugary foods and beverages would likely not curb obesity rates as it would not directly address the issue of overconsumption.

“Obesity is caused by a number of factors and it is unrealistic to assume that one thing could be responsible for the obesity crisis, said Theresa Hedrick, a dietitian with the Calorie Control Council. “This study is good news for people who may eat lower-sugar products containing fructose.”



van Buul VJ, Tappy L, Brouns FJPH. Misconceptions about fructose-containing sugars and their role in the obesity epidemic. Nutrition Research Reviews, 2014. doi: 10.1017/S0954422414000067.