Excess consumption of calories can contribute to the disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common chronic liver disease in developed countries, affecting up to 30 per cent of their populations.
Since the disease is closely linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, there's a growing debate in the medical community about whether diet plays a role in its development, specifically the consumption of fructose.
The possible link to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has become the main criticism against fructose among those who believe there is something unique about the fructose molecule or the way it is metabolized and blame it for the obesity epidemic.
A meta-analysis of all available human trials published today in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition says fructose in and of itself is not to blame for the increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
But excess consumption of calories can contribute to the disease, regardless of whether those calories came from fructose or other carbohydrates, said the lead author, Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital.
"The one thing fructose is supposed to do above all else is give you fatty liver disease, which some say is a starting point for metabolic syndrome--a term used to describe a group of conditions that puts people at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other heart-related problems--and Type 2 diabetes itself," Dr. Sievenpiper said.
"But we found it behaves no differently than glucose or refined starches. It is only when you consume excess calories in the form of fructose that you see a signal for harm but no more harm than if you consume excess calories as glucose."
Fructose, which is naturally found in fruit, vegetables and honey, is a simple sugar that together with glucose forms sucrose, the basis of table sugar. It is also found in sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, the two most common sweeteners in commercially prepared foods.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one cause of a fatty liver, occurring when fat is deposited in the liver. Unlike alcoholic liver disease, it is not due to excessive alcohol use.
Previous research by Dr. Sievenpiper has found that fructose by itself does not cause weight gain and does not itself have any impact on an emerging marker for the risk of cardiovascular disease known as postprandial triglycerides when it is substituted for other carbohydrates. It is when fructose is overconsumed providing excess calories that you see the adverse effects on health, but no more than when other carbohydrates are overconsumed.
A study he published in the February issue of Current Opinion in Lipidology also found no benefit in replacing fructose with glucose in commercially prepared foods. That research again showed that that when portion sizes and calories are the same, fructose does not cause any more harm than glucose.
"The debate over the role of fructose in obesity, fatty liver and other metabolic diseases has distracted us from the issue of overconsumption," Dr. Sievenpiper said. "Our data should serve to remind people that the excess calories, whether they are from fructose or other sources, are the issue."
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Knowledge Synthesis grant and a research grant from the Calorie Control Council.
About St. Michael's Hospital
St Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Sievenpiper, contact:
Manager, Media Strategy
St. Michael's Hospital
Inspired Care. Inspiring Science.
Leslie Shepherd | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.
Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...
Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases
Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...
Scaffolding and specialised workers help with the delivery – Heidelberg biochemists gain new insights into biogenesis
A type of scaffolding on which specialised workers ply their trade helps in the manufacturing process of the two subunits from which the ribosome – the protein...
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed a new mass spectrometry imaging method which, for the first time, makes it possible to analyze hundreds of metabolites in fixed tissue samples. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Protocols, explain the new access to metabolic information, which will offer previously unexploited potential for tissue-based research and molecular diagnostics.
In biomedical research, working with tissue samples is indispensable because it permits insights into the biological reality of patients, for example, in...
Chemists at the University of Basel have succeeded in using computer simulations to elucidate transient structures in proteins. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, the researchers set out how computer simulations of details at the atomic level can be used to understand proteins’ modes of action.
Using computational chemistry, it is possible to characterize the motion of individual atoms of a molecule. Today, the latest simulation techniques allow...
15.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
11.07.2016 | Event News
22.07.2016 | Information Technology
22.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
22.07.2016 | Life Sciences