March 28, 2023 – 11:21 PM
Relationship between the consumption of fruit sugar and the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease further unravelled
Researchers at Maastricht UMC+ have found a link between the processing of fruit sugar in the body and the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These findings support measures to reduce fruit sugar consumption.
Currently, more than one million Dutch people have type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes. Diabetes has a huge impact on people’s quality of life. At least half of them develop complications such as cardiovascular disease, damage to the nervous system, but also to eyes, kidneys and feet. Researchers at Maastricht UMC+ have further investigated the link between fruit sugar, one of the most important added sugars, and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They studied people who, due to a hereditary predisposition, are less able to process fruit sugar. They break down fruit sugar less well and urinate part of it. These people appeared to have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Lead researcher Professor Martijn Brouwers and his team studied the effects of a reduced processing of fruit sugar in the body in more than one million people. ‘By studying people who, due to a hereditary predisposition, are less able to process fruit sugar in the body, we can look very specifically at the role that fruit sugar has played throughout life in the development of diseases’. Brouwers found that people with such a hereditary predisposition not only had less fat accumulation in their liver and lower blood pressure, they also had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Brouwers explains: ‘Previous epidemiological research has already shown a link between the consumption of added sugars and the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, such a relationship does not automatically mean that there is a cause-and-effect relationship. People who consume a lot of fruit sugar from soft drinks, for example, may also have other unhealthy lifestyle habits that lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By having people follow a diet, more insight can be gained into the actual role of fruit sugar. Last year we found that people had less fat accumulation in their liver and lower blood pressure after following a diet without fruit sugar. Unfortunately, that study was too small-scale and too short-term to make a statement about the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.’
These results do support the measures to reduce the consumption of fruit sugar. One proven effective remedy is the introduction of a so-called sugar tax on sugary drinks. Brouwers thinks that supermarkets should also take their responsibility: ‘Recent research by the Food Alliance for the Healthy Generation shows that unhealthy food still has a prominent place in supermarkets, both in the design and in the offers. If supermarkets have a healthier range, it will contribute to a healthier population.’
DThe research findings were recently published in the scientific journals American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Clinical Nutrition and Diabetes Care https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/46/4/e97/148308/Comment-on-Lee-et-al-Relation-of-Change-or.
The research was supported by the Heart Foundation and the Diabetes Fund.
The research report of the Alliance Nutrition for the Healthy Generation can be found at http://gezondegeneratie.nl/reactie-avgg-op-resultaten-superlijst-gezondheid-2022.
Source: Maastricht University Medical Center+