A review of animal and human studies puts forward the claim that added fructose within processed food is the number one cause behind the rises in incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The review, entitled Added Fructose: A Principal Driver of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Its Consequences, is published online in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Within the review, the researchers evaluate clinical trials in which equal calorie diets were compared. The review found that when sugar replaced starches, rates of diabetes complications such as neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy rose, as did mortality rates.

Sugar doubles risk of diabetes

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that having added sugar form up to 19% of calories consumed is acceptable, however, the researchers show that people having 18% of calories coming from sugar doubles the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes compared with people that have 5% of their calories from sugar.

The study highlights the artificially added fructose, which is these days found within a huge range of processed foods, to be a major factor in declining health. The review makes a number of recommendations towards reducing the quantity of added sugars in the modern diet.

Call to stop subsidizing corn syrup

The recommendations include stopping the subsidization of corn which has led to high fructose corn syrup becoming so cheap to produce and include in foods. Instead, the researchers argue that is whole foods that should receive subsidies. The review includes a call to reduce added sugars in the diet to be a maximum of 5% of calorie intake. They also call for sweetened beverages to not be sold within schools and hospitals.

The researchers stress that fructose consumed in the form of whole fruit should continue to be regarded as healthy. The health of fructose from fruit juice is less healthy than from whole fruit.