Moderate amounts of fructose- or glucose-sweetened beverages do not differentially alter metabolic health in male and female adolescents


Background: Adolescents consume more sugar-sweetened beverages than do individuals in any other age group, but it is unknown how the type of sugar-sweetened beverage affects metabolic health in this population.

Objective: The objective was to compare the metabolic health effects of short-term (2-wk) consumption of high-fructose (HF) and high-glucose (HG)–sweetened beverages in adolescents (15–20 y of age).

Design: In a counterbalanced, single-blind fashion, 40 male and female adolescents completed two 2-wk trials that included 1) an HF trial in which they consumed 710 mL of a sugar-sweetened beverage/d (equivalent to 50 g fructose/d and 15 g glucose/d) for 2 wk and 2) an HG trial in which they consumed 710 mL of a sugar-sweetened beverage/d (equivalent to 50 g glucose/d and 15 g fructose/d) for 2 wk in addition to their normal ad libitum diet. In addition, the participants maintained similar physical activity levels during each trial. The day after each trial, insulin sensitivity and resistance [assessed via Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI) and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index] and fasting and postprandial glucose, lactate, lipid, cholesterol, insulin, C-peptide, insulin secretion, and clearance responses to HF or HG mixed meals were assessed.

Results: Body weight, QUICKI (whole-body insulin sensitivity), HOMA-IR (hepatic insulin resistance), and fasting lipids, cholesterol, glucose, lactate, and insulin secretion or clearance were not different between trials. Fasting HDL- and HDL3-cholesterol concentrations were 10–31% greater (P < 0.05) in female adolescents than in male adolescents. Postprandial triacylglycerol, HDL-cholesterol, HDL3-cholesterol, and glucose concentrations were not different between HF and HG trials. The lactate incremental area under the curve was 3.7-fold greater during the HF trial (P < 0.05), whereas insulin secretion was 19% greater during the HG trial (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Moderate amounts of HF- or HG-sweetened beverages for 2 wk did not have differential effects on fasting or postprandial cholesterol, triacylglycerol, glucose, or hepatic insulin clearance in weight-stable, physically active adolescents.


Alex’s Notes: Fructose is only detrimental when sedentary. Regardless, most soda and fruit juices contain about 60% fructose – mainly because of the high-fructose corn syrup – and adolescents between 12 and 22 years old consume the greatest amount of these beverages. So with most studies looking at the effects of excess fructose consumption in adults and rodents, it is time to look at these effects in those who consume the most – teenagers! Two weeks of an additional 50g of fructose and 15g of glucose in the form of a beverage in persons aged 15-20 years old, and another group doing the same with 50g of glucose and 15g of fructose. These groups then switched beverages. The 40 participants were an average age of 18 years, and had activity monitored 23 hours daily by a Bodymedia armband, while diet was tracked via dietary records.

And now for the beautiful results,

  • HF- and HG-sweetened beverages do not differentially alter insulin sensitivity (assessed via QUICKI), hepatic insulin resistance (assessed via HOMA-IR), or traditional fasting markers of metabolic health (triacylglycerol, cholesterol, glucose, insulin secretion, or insulin clearance) or postprandial markers of metabolic health (triacylglycerol, HDL cholesterol, HDL3 cholesterol, glucose, and insulin clearance).
  • HF meals, compared with HG meals, resulted in greater postprandial lactate concentrations;
  • HG meals resulted in greater postprandial insulin secretion.
  • Despite similar whole-body insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin resistance and independent of the type of sugar-sweetened beverage consumed, female adolescents had greater insulin secretion and HDL-cholesterol concentrations than did male adolescents.
  • Female adolescents had lower free living physical activity levels compared with male adolescents.
  • Independent of the type of sugar-sweetened beverage consumed or previous physical activity levels, overweight/obese adolescents showed lower whole-body insulin sensitivity and greater hepatic insulin resistance than did their lean counter parts.

I hate to be boring, but really the only takeaway here is that being obese leads to worse health parameters. Stop hating on fructose people; it isn’t the devil so long as you are lean and physically active. Moreover, these trials all use beverages that mimic soda. As Super Humans, we don’t drink that crap anyways and I highly doubt that an apple or banana would have the same effects.


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