A new study may provide a clue to North America's obesity problem.
Fructose — a very cheap and sweet sugar found in North American staples — may be tricking people's brains into thinking they're hungry when they're actually full.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track the blood flow in the brains of 20 young men of normal weight before and after they drank beverages with fructose or glucose, another type of sugar.
They found glucose suppressed activity in the areas of the brain that control reward and a desire for food. Not so with fructose.
And fructose is in just about everything. Table sugar is half glucose, half fructose. And high-fructose corn syrup, which is 55% fructose, is in soda, juice, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, sauces, lunch meats, condiments, canned foods and much more.
The study's authors acknowledge the study is small and doesn't prove a link between fructose and obesity. But the journal's editors, Dr. Jonathan Purnell and Dr. Damien Fair, note the findings mirror those from previous studies on animals.
What's more, the study's participants also reported feeling less full after consuming the fructose drinks, lending credibility to the MRI results.
"These findings support the conceptual framework that when the human brain is exposed to fructose, neurobiological pathways involved in appetite regulation are modulated, thereby promoting increased food intake," they wrote.
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