SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Reaction is fast to a new study in the American Medicine Journal blaming fructose for the obesity epidemic in the United States. The study by researchers at Yale University studied 20 adults using MRI imaging to study the effects on the human brain.
Dr. James Rippe, professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, disputes the study's findings.
"The biggest problem is that the study is a small study that compares very large doses of pure fructose to pure glucose and their effects on the brain," said Rippe, by telephone from Washington, D.C. "Human beings do not consume pure fructose or pure glucose to any appreciable degree...the problem with this study is it is very artificial and to speculate, as the authors are now starting to do, that this has applicability to human nutrition or human condition such as obesity is really unwarranted."
But other academic personnel say the study reinforces what they have believed for some time.
"I think there has been some growing evidence around fructose, especially with high fructose corn syrup. Some people have been doubting that, but I think it has been piling up more and more," said Dr. Mark Blegen, Chair of Nutrician and Exercise Sciences at Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. "They have shown previously that fructose gets metabolized differently in the liver and now this study shows that it is bypassing certain reward seeking areas in the brain."
Blegen said the result is that the part of the brain that shuts off appetite is bypassed and, as a result, people consume more calories because they do not feel "full."
High fructose corn syrup is a major ingredient in many foods including brands of soft drinks, which is heavily consumed by children and adults.
The Minnetonka-based Cargill Corporation is a major supplier of high fructose corn syrup. They offered an interview with Dr. Rippe, who insisted he receives no direct subsidy from Cargill for his research.
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