SCIENTISTS have discovered the key ingredient in food that could be driving obesity rates.
Fructose — a type of sugar found in corn syrup and table sugar — causes people to lose control of their appetite and start piling on the pounds.
Researchers said there are a range of theories around whether fat, carbohydrates, protein or sugars are more important when looking at weight gain.
However, their new research suggests fructose could be the main driver behind packing on belly fat.
Dr Richard Johnson, of the University of Colorado, said: “These theories, which put a litany of dietary drivers at the centre of the obesity epidemic, are all pieces of a puzzle unified by one last piece: fructose.
“Fructose is what triggers our metabolism to go into low power mode and lose our control of appetite, but fatty foods become the major source of calories that drive weight gain.”
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Fructose is a natural sugar that is normally found in relatively low amounts in fruits like apples and bananas.
While eating fruit is unlikely to cause problems on its own, fructose is also used in most added sugars found in ingredients lists for a range of products.
It is used in table sugar as well high-fructose corn syrup and agave syrup, which are used in soft drinks, chocolate, sweets, juices, fast food, condiments and more.
Previous studies have shown eating fructose can alter cells in the digestive tract, causing people to absorb more calories from all foods they eat.
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The latest review, published in Obesity, Biology and Integrated Physiology, sought to identify how fructose links other theories of what causes weight gain.
Researchers found metabolising fructose causes a drop in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — the body’s main source of energy.
This can cause the body to crave more food, resulting in eating too much and weight gain.
Dr Johnson said: “This theory views obesity as a low-energy state.
“Identifying fructose as the conduit that redirects active energy replacement to fat storage shows that fructose is what drives energy imbalance, which unites theories.”
11 surprising foods that can contain high levels of fructose
Some types of these foods can contain high fructose corn syrup:
- Breakfast sandwiches
- Barbecue sauce
- Apple sauce
- Cocktail sauce
- Steak sauce
- Canned fruit
- Maple syrup
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