Sugar in diet found to double fat production in liver
A new study led by scientists from the University of Zurich has found moderate consumption of fructose and sucrose can dramatically amplify fat production in the liver. The research also suggests these sugar-induced changes to fat metabolism can continue for long periods of time.
Prior research has found fructose in particular can disrupt the liver’s ability to effectively burn fat. High-fructose diets are known to damage mitochondria and shift the liver from burning fat to storing it.
The new research explored whether these same metabolic abnormalities were triggered by moderate volumes of sugar in a diet. Around one hundred healthy young subjects were recruited and divided into three groups plus a control group. Each sugar group consumed one drink per day with 80 grams of either fructose, glucose or sucrose. For reference, that's roughy the amount of sugar in two cans of Coke.
“The body’s own fat production in the liver was twice as high in the fructose group as in the glucose group or the control group – and this was still the case more than twelve hours after the last meal or sugar consumption,” says Philipp Gerber, lead researcher on the study.
Importantly the results showed sucrose amplified fat production in the liver to the same level seen with fructose. Prior research had suggested only fructose was thought to have this negative effect on liver fat metabolism.
Gerber notes these findings suggest relatively small amounts of sugars added to a diet can trigger adverse metabolic effects. And these effects were seen to last for longer periods of time than previously thought.
“Eighty grams of sugar daily, which is equivalent to about 0.8 liters of a normal soft drink, boosts fat production in the liver,” says Gerber. “And the overactive fat production continues for a longer period of time, even if no more sugar is consumed.”
The researchers ultimately suggest these findings are a potent reminder to limit added sugars in one’s daily diet. The American Heart Foundation currently recommends men to consume no more than 37.5 grams of added sugar per day, and women no more than 25 grams.
The new study was published in the Journal of Hematology.