Consumption of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup does not increase liver fat or ectopic fat deposition in muscles

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Jun;38(6):681-8. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0322. Epub 2013 Feb 12.


It has been postulated that fructose-induced triglyceride synthesis is augmented when accompanied by glucose. Chronic elevations could lead to excess fat accumulation in the liver and ectopic fat deposition in muscles, which in turn could contribute to the induction of abnormalities in glucose homeostasis, insulin resistance, and the subsequent development of type 2 diabetes. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of the addition of commonly consumed fructose- and (or) glucose-containing sugars in the usual diet on liver fat content and intramuscular adipose tissue. For 10 weeks, 64 individuals (mean age, 42.16 ± 11.66 years) consumed low-fat milk sweetened with either high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or sucrose; the added sugar matched consumption levels of fructose in the 25th, 50th, and 90th percentiles of the population. The fat content of the liver was measured with unenhanced computed tomography imaging, and the fat content of muscle was assessed with magnetic resonance imaging. When the 6 HFCS and sucrose groups were averaged, there was no change over the course of 10 weeks in the fat content of the liver (13.32% ± 10.49% vs. 13.21% ± 10.75%; p > 0.05), vastus lateralis muscle (3.07 ± 0.74 g per 100 mL vs. 3.15 ± 0.84 g per 100 mL; p > 0.05), or gluteus maximus muscle (4.08 ± 1.50 g per 100 mL vs. 4.24 ± 1.42 g per 100 mL; p > 0.05). Group assignment did not affect the result (interaction > 0.05). These data suggest that when fructose is consumed as part of a typical diet in normally consumed sweeteners, such as sucrose or HFCS, ectopic fat storage in the liver or muscles is not promoted.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Fructose* / pharmacology
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup*
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Obesity
  • Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Zea mays


  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose