Epidemiological evidence regarding the relationship between fructose intake and intrahepatic lipid (IHL) content is inconclusive. We, therefore, assessed the relationship between different sources of fructose and IHL at the population level.
We used cross-sectional data from The Maastricht Study, a population-based cohort study (n = 3,981; mean ± SD age: 60 ± 9 years; 50% women). We assessed the relationship between fructose intake (assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire)—total and derived from fruit, fruit juice, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB)—and IHL (quantified with 3T Dixon MRI) with adjustment for age, sex, type 2 diabetes, education, smoking status, physical activity, and intakes of total energy, alcohol, saturated fat, protein, vitamin E, and dietary fiber.
Energy-adjusted total fructose intake and energy-adjusted fructose from fruit were not associated with IHL in the fully adjusted models (P = 0.647 and P = 0.767). In contrast, energy-adjusted intake of fructose from fruit juice and SSB was associated with higher IHL in the fully adjusted models (P = 0.019 and P = 0.009). Individuals in the highest tertile of energy-adjusted intake of fructose from fruit juice and SSB had a 1.04-fold (95% CI 0.99; 1.11) and 1.09-fold (95% CI 1.03; 1.16) higher IHL, respectively, in comparison with the lowest tertile in the fully adjusted models. Finally, the association for fructose from fruit juice was stronger in individuals with type 2 diabetes (P for interaction = 0.071).
Fructose from fruit juice and SSB is independently associated with higher IHL. These cross-sectional findings contribute to current knowledge in support of measures to reduce the intake of fructose-containing beverages as a means to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease at the population level.
See accompanying article, p. 1032.
This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.18032555.