Context: The impact of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) on lipid metabolism when consumed in moderate amounts by normal weight subjects is debated.
Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of different types of sugars in SSB on fatty acid metabolism (ie, fatty acid synthesis and oxidation) in healthy young men.
Design: Thirty-four normal-weight men were studied in a randomized crossover study. Four isocaloric 3-week interventions with SSB were performed in random order: medium fructose (MF; 40 g/d); high fructose (HF; 80 g/d), high sucrose (HS; 80 g/d), and high glucose (HG; 80g/d). Fasting total plasma fatty acid composition was measured after each intervention. Acylcarnitines were measured in the fasting state and after a euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp in nine subjects.
Results: The relative abundance of palmitate (16:0) and the molar fatty acid ratio of palmitate to linoleic acid (16:0 to18:2) as markers of fatty acid synthesis were increased after HF [relative abundance of palmitate: 22.97% ± 5.51% (percentage of total fatty acids by weight ±SD)] and MF (26.1% ± 1.7%) compared with HS (19.40% ± 2.91%, P < .001), HG (19.43% ±3.12 %, P < .001), or baseline (19.40% ± 2.79%, P < .001). After HS and HG, the relative abundance of palmitate was equal to baseline. Fasting palmitoylcarnitine was significantly increased after HF and HS (HF and HS vs. HG: P = .005), decreasing after inhibition of lipolysis by insulin in the clamp.
Conclusions: When consumed in moderate amounts, fructose but not sucrose or glucose in SSB increases fatty acid synthesis (palmitate), whereas fasting long-chain acylcarnitines are increased after both fructose and sucrose, indicating an impaired β-oxidation flux.