Fructose and metabolic diseases: new findings, new questions

Nutrition. 2010 Nov-Dec;26(11-12):1044-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.02.014. Epub 2010 May 14.


There has been much concern regarding the role of dietary fructose in the development of metabolic diseases. This concern arises from the continuous increase in fructose (and total added caloric sweeteners consumption) in recent decades, and from the increased use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a sweetener. A large body of evidence shows that a high-fructose diet leads to the development of obesity, diabetes, and dyslipidemia in rodents. In humans, fructose has long been known to increase plasma triglyceride concentrations. In addition, when ingested in large amounts as part of a hypercaloric diet, it can cause hepatic insulin resistance, increased total and visceral fat mass, and accumulation of ectopic fat in the liver and skeletal muscle. These early effects may be instrumental in causing, in the long run, the development of the metabolic syndrome. There is however only limited evidence that fructose per se, when consumed in moderate amounts, has deleterious effects. Several effects of a high-fructose diet in humans can be observed with high-fat or high-glucose diets as well, suggesting that an excess caloric intake may be the main factor involved in the development of the metabolic syndrome. The major source of fructose in our diet is with sweetened beverages (and with other products in which caloric sweeteners have been added). The progressive replacement of sucrose by HFCS is however unlikely to be directly involved in the epidemy of metabolic disease, because HFCS appears to have basically the same metabolic effects as sucrose. Consumption of sweetened beverages is however clearly associated with excess calorie intake, and an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases through an increase in body weight. This has led to the recommendation to limit the daily intake of sugar calories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Energy Intake
  • Fructose / administration & dosage
  • Fructose / adverse effects*
  • Fructose / analysis
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Glucose Metabolism Disorders / epidemiology
  • Health Transition
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Sciences / trends*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • Sweetening Agents / chemistry


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose