Rodent studies demonstrate that compared with diets sweetened with sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) produces greater metabolic dysfunction. However, the effects of sustained consumption of HFCS and sucrose have not been adequately compared in humans. The objective of this study was to compare HFCS-, sucrose-, or aspartame- sweetened beverage (-SB) consumption on hepatic lipid content and insulin sensitivity in young adults. In a parallel, double-blinded study, adult men and women (18-40 yrs) were assigned to beverage groups matched for sex, BMI and fasting triglycerides. Inpatient magnetic resonance imaging for hepatic lipid content and oral glucose tolerance tests were performed at baseline and intervention 15 days later. For 12 outpatient days subjects consumed their usual diets with 3 servings/day of HFCS- (n=28) or sucrose-SB (n=24) providing 25% energy requirement (Ereq), or aspartame-SB (n=23). Matched standardized diets were provided during inpatient testing with the sugar in beverages replacing complex carbohydrate during intervention.

Hepatic lipid content was increased by consumption of HFCS-SB (LS means of absolute Δ±SEM: 0.5%±0.2, P<0.05) and sucrose-SB (Δ: 0.5%±0.2, P<0.01) compared with baseline levels and compared with aspartame-SB (Δ: -0.2%±0.2, P<0.05 vs. HFCS- or sucrose-SB). The 3-hr Matsuda insulin sensitivity index was decreased by consumption of HFCS-SB (Δ: -0.3±0.2) and sucrose-SB (Δ: -0.5±0.2, P<0.01 vs. baseline) compared with aspartame-SB (Δ: 0.3±0.2, P<0.05 vs. HFCS- or sucrose-SB). The 2-hr Oral Glucose Insulin Sensitivity index was also decreased by consumption of HFCS-SB (Δ: -13.6±7.5) and sucrose-SB (Δ:-11.5±7.9) compared with aspartame-SB (Δ: +17.9±8.3, P<0.05 vs. HFCS- or sucrose-SB).

Consumption of SB providing 25% of Ereq as HFCS or sucrose for 2 weeks increased hepatic lipid content and reduced insulin sensitivity in young adults compared with consumption of aspartame-SB.


D. Sigala: None. B. Hieronimus: None. C. Price: None. V. Lee: None. M. Nunez: None. V. Medici: None. A.J. Chaudhari: None. J.P. McGahan: None. Y. Abdelhafez: None. N.L. Keim: None. M.I. Goran: Advisory Panel; Self; Yumi. Other Relationship; Self; Penguin Random House. G. Pacini: None. A. Tura: None. P.J. Havel: Research Support; Self; Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Magnamosis, Inc. Other Relationship; Self; None. K.L. Stanhope: None.


National Institutes of Health (R01HL091333, R01HL107256)

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