Study Finds Moderate Intake of Fructose-Sweetened Beverages Does Not Lead to Poor Metabolic Health in Teenagers

Moderate consumption of fructose does not lead to adverse metabolic health in adolescents, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In the study, 40 participants took part in two 15-day trials: one for high-fructose sweetened beverages (HF) and one for high-glucose sweetened beverages (HG). The trial order was randomized for participants. In each trial, on days 1-14, participants consumed 710 mL of their assigned beverage per day, in addition to their typical diet. For the HF trial, participants consumed 50 g/day of fructose from the trial beverages. For the HG trial, participants consumed 50 g/day of glucose from the trial beverages.

On day 15 of each trial, participants reported to the study laboratory after an 11-hour fast and consumed three liquid meals, and provided blood samples every 15-30 minutes for 12 hours. During day 15, those participating in the HF trial consumed 50 g of fructose in total while those participating in the HG trial consumed at total of 20 g of glucose and 15 g of fructose.

Results of the study found that there was no significant difference in several markers for metabolic health between both trials, including insulin sensitivity, hepatic insulin resistance, cholesterol concentration, triacylglycerol concentration, insulin clearance and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. The researchers concluded, “These findings expand on previous data showing that high fructose intake is not associated with deleterious metabolic consequences in adolescents and suggest that short-term (2-wk) consumption of moderate amounts (50 g/d) of HF- or HG-sweetened beverages do not detrimentally alter metabolic health in weight-stable, physically active adolescents.” Further, the researchers concluded, “Collectively, the data suggest that fructose or glucose consumption per se is not detrimental to an adolescent’s health, and perhaps factors other than fructose intake (obesity, physical activity levels) should be targeted to prevent chronic disease in this population.”

Heden TD, Liu Y, Park YM, Nyhoff LM, Winn NC, Kanaley JA. Moderate amounts of fructose- and glucose-sweetened beverages do not differentially alter metabolic health in male and female adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr, 2014; 100: 796-805.