Adolescents who consume foods and beverages containing high-fructose corn syrup already have present in their blood evidence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to a recent study. The results of the study published in The Journal of Nutrition, provide strong scientific evidence of the negative health consequences of fructose on the human body.
Health consequences of HFCS show up early
An investigation by scientists from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) followed 559 children ages 14-18. The study subjects’ dietary habits were recorded and blood analyzed, and blood pressure, body fat and other health measurements taken. The researchers found a correlation between high-fructose diets and markers for heart and vascular disease such as higher blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin resistance and levels of C – reactive protein, related to inflammation.
Teens whose diets included more HFCS also had lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and of the fat-burning hormone adiponectin. In addition, study subjects who often consumed the industrial sweetener were more likely to have midsection fat, referred to as visceral adiposity, another known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. More generalized fat distribution does not appear to have a link to HFCS or the other health risk factors.
Norman Pollock, assistant professor of pediatrics at GHSU and co-lead author of the study said that “There is not much data in children and adolescents,” although “adolescents consume the most fructose so it’s really important to not only measure the levels of fructose but to look at what it might be doing to their bodies currently and, hopefully, to look at cardiovascular disease outcomes as they grow.”
Re-shaping teen diets
Dr. Vanessa Bundy, a pediatric resident at MCG as well as co-lead author of the study, said, “It is so very important to provide a healthy balance of high-quality food to our children and to really pay close attention to the fructose and sucrose they are consuming at their home or anyone else’s. The nutrition that caregivers provide their children will either contribute to their overall health and development or potentially contribute to cardiovascular disease at an early age.”
Bundy also pointed out that parents can help their teens by modeling good health habits, including both nutritious dietary choices and regular exercise.
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