According to a study published in “Hepatology” Journal, obese patients with diabetes who consume high amounts of fructose have altered metabolism and energy balance. In these individuals, the levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the liver are reduced. ATP is a compound involved in the energy transfer between cells. Energy depletion in the liver may be associated with liver injury in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and in those at risk for developing this metabolic condition.

Fructose is a simple sugar that fuels the body, and is found in fruits and vegetables. High fructose corn syrup which is a mixture of glucose and fructose is used as a sweetener in consumer food products such as bread, cereals, and soda. Prior research reports that fructose consumption has more than doubled in the past 30 years. In fact, studies have shown that in the United States, average daily fructose intake has increased from 15 grams in the early 1900s to 55 grams in 1994, which experts believe is mainly due to an increase in soft drink consumption.

There is an alarming trend of increased rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and NAFLD and given the concurrent rise in fructose consumption and metabolic diseases, it is important to understand the impact of a high-fructose diet on liver function and liver disease.

In the present study, 244 obese and diabetic adults were evaluated, with dietary fructose consumption estimated by the food frequency questionnaire. Change in liver ATP content was assessed using fructose challenge and patients with low fructose consumption (<15 g/day) were compared to those with high fructose consumption (>15 g/day).

It was found that that individuals with a high intake of dietary fructose had lower liver ATP levels at baseline and a greater fall in ATP content following the fructose challenge than those with a low intake of fructose.

The researchers concluded that high fructose consumption is associated with low levels of liver ATP and that increased dietary fructose intake may impair liver “energy balance.” Further research to define the clinical implications of these findings on metabolism and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is necessary. The authors highlight the importance of public awareness of the risks associated with a diet high in fructose.