Tags: high | fructose | diet | teens | heart | risk | Journal of Nutrition

High-Fructose Diet Hurts Teen Hearts

Friday, 27 Jan 2012 07:43 AM

While a fast metabolism may fool some teenagers into developing a sense of invincibility, a new report suggests that a diet high in fructose — found in processed foods like soda, baked goods, lunch meats, and condiments — can put teens at cardiovascular risk.

In an analysis of 560 teenagers aged 14 to 18, a team of researchers found that high-fructose diets correlated with higher blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin resistance, and inflammatory factors that are known to contribute to heart and vascular disease.

The study also found that the heaviest consumers tended to have lower levels of the "good" cholesterol, HDL, which acts as a cardiovascular protector.

The report is published in the February issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

"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," said study co-author Norman Pollock in a release.

Add excess belly fat to the equation, and the risk for heart disease and diabetes increases, scientists said.

In recent years, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in particular has suffered a bad rap among health advocates, consumer groups, and scientists who say that young bodies metabolize the sweetener differently than other sugars due to harmful byproducts.

In a Princeton study published in 2010, for instance, researchers found that rats who consumed an HFCS diet gained more weight than rats which fed on table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. High-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to table sugar.

Perhaps one of its most vocal and high-profile critics is food writer Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food," who has spoken out against the mega-sweetener repeatedly.

High-fructose corn syrup is one of the most common sweeteners found in processed foods and beverages that include sweet and savory items like breads, cereals, lunch meats, yogurts, soups, and condiments.

Researchers also suspect that growing bodies are taught to crave the cheap sweetener and are often targeted by food manufacturers in young consumer ads.

Results of their study could be used to help mold public policies that aim to curb consumption, such as removing soda from vending machines in schools and limiting access, Pollock said.

Copyright AFP/Relaxnews

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Teens who consume diets high in fructose put their heart health at risk, a new study reports.
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