Fructose toxicity: is the science ready for public health actions?

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Jul;15(4):357-61. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328354727e.


Purpose of review: The assumption that fructose may be toxic and involved in the pathogenesis of noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and even cancer has resulted in the call for public health action, such as introducing taxes on sweetened beverages. This review evaluates the scientific basis for such action.

Recent findings: Although some studies hint towards some potential adverse effects of excessive fructose consumption especially when combined with excess energy intake, the results from clinical trials do not support a significant detrimental effect of fructose on metabolic health when consumed as part of a weight-maintaining diet in amounts consistent with the average-estimated fructose consumption in Western countries. However, definitive studies are missing.

Summary: Public health policies to eliminate or limit fructose in the diet should be considered premature. Instead, efforts should be made to promote a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and nutritious foods while avoiding intake of excess calories until solid evidence to support action against fructose is available. Public health is almost certainly to benefit more from policies that are aimed at promoting what is known to be good than from policies that are prohibiting what is not (yet) known to be bad.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fructose / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Public Health*
  • Public Policy
  • Science
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects*


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose