Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

The Brain on Fructose

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan of a head

Image via Wikipedia

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the most common sweetener added to processed foods.  Since its use began, our obesity rates have risen dramatically.  Although HFCS more than likely is not t he only factor, it may play a role in weight gain.  The obesity rates have also increased globally which may be correlated with the increased use of processed foods.

A recent study from Oregon Health and Science University demonstrated that the brain reacts differently to fructose compared with glucose.  The researchers used functional MRIs to assess these effects in human normal weight subjects. Functional MRIs allow researchers to study brain activity in real time.  They noted differences in the cortical areas of the brain when infusions of fructose, glucose, or saline solutions were administered.  No effect was seen in the hypothalamus, the area involving food intake regulation.  But opposite responses were seen in the cortical areas involved in how we respond to food intake, smells, and pictures.  Animal research shows similar findings and links fructose with obesity.

Oregon Health & Science University. “What makes fructose fattening? Some answers found in the brain.” ScienceDaily 9 February 2011. 18 February 2011 <­ /releases/2011/02/110209131951.htm>.

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