JAMA Article on Fructose and Hunger

The JAMA Article on Fructose and Hunger– Poorly Supported Claims about Weight Gain

There’s a lot of misinformation about what makes us fat and it doesn’t help to add more fuel to the fire with new studies that make purely provocative claims about the effects of fructose on hunger and weight gain. The latest study, “Effects of Fructose vs Glucose on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Brain Regions Involved With Appetite and Reward Pathways,” published recently in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), ignores “real world” dietary habits and makes wild claims about how our brain responds to fructose.

Experts Agree the Methodology is Flawed

The study bases its conclusions on a test conducted on just 20 people who were fed massive doses of either fructose or glucose in a manner that people do not consume in real life. Experts agree that this doesn’t help us understand the effects of sugars in the diet.

“It is highly unusual for humans to consume this much sugar in one sitting, particularly if they had just finished a fast,” said Dr. James Rippe, Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida.  “All of these factors could certainly alter the eventual outcomes.  It is important that studies focusing on obesity and food consumption mirror real world experiences as much as possible.  By failing to do so, we really gain very little practical insight.”

What the study fails to recognize is that neither fructose nor glucose – both simple sugars -- is consumed alone in the human diet as they are almost always consumed together. The amount of fructose or glucose each group received was well beyond the amount normally consumed.  And the 20 people who took part in the study were asked to fast overnight before they were given either of the sugars.  Under those circumstances, it doesn’t seem very reasonable to expect that they won’t eat more.  

What is more, pure fructose and its effect on the body are extremely different from that of high fructose corn syrup. Cane and beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and several fruit juices are all roughly equal in both fructose and glucose content. By analyzing fructose independently, the studies are not representative of normal diets and cannot be applied to high fructose corn syrup which contains both fructose and glucose.

Video FAQ: fructose and science

For more information on fructose and science, watch the video with James Krieger, MS.

Other Studies on Hunger and Sugars

Additionally, it should be noted that research shows that HFCS is metabolized similar to other sugars. Multiple studies have shown that high fructose corn syrup has similar effects on feelings of fullness as sugar and 1% milk. This includes research done by the University of Washington, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, University of Toronto and University of Rhode Island. 

Video FAQ: How is high fructose corn syrup metabolized?

For more information on how HFCS is metabolized by the body, watch the video with Jim Laidler, MD.

So before you believe the hype about yet another flawed study, learn the facts about what really makes us fat and remember the best way to stay fit and healthy is a balanced approach to your total diet and that includes total sugars. Learn more about moderating added sugars in your diet.

For more information on HFCS, visit our FAQs section and view the Corn Refiners Association’s official statement on the study. 

What Others Are Saying

Other third-party experts are commenting on the latest JAMA study.

  • Dr. Louis Aronne, founder and director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, noted that most sweeteners contain a mixture of glucose and fructose. For these reasons, "the effect is not as dramatic as you might see in a trial like this." From “Is Fructose Making People Fat,”  HealthDay, January 1, 2013
  • Jonathan Purnell, MD, an endocrinologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, who wrote an editorial on the study but was not involved in the research said the following, “This study didn’t prove that fructose causes weight gain. It doesn’t reflect real-world conditions.” From “Fructose May Affect Hunger Cues,” Web MD Health News, January 2, 2013