The next time you reach for that sugary soft drink, consider this: it may contain even more of the sweet stuff inside than what the label claims. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California analyzed the chemical makeup of more than 30 popular soda and juice brands, and what they found is concerning.
A team of experts led by Dr. Michael Goran found that most of the beverages made with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained 50% more fructose than glucose, even though manufacturers insist that HFCS isn’t all that different from natural sugar (sucrose) which contains equal parts fructose and glucose. Moreover, many of the beverage labels failed to accurately represent the amount of fructose in each drink.
“We found what ends up being consumed in these beverages is neither natural sugar nor HFCS, but instead a fructose-intense concoction that could increase one’s risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” said Goran. “The human body isn’t designed to process this form of sugar at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat.”
Now for the hard truth: Americans today are consuming more sugary beverages than ever before. And, like Goran said, the consequences are not good. Nearly half of all Americans drink soda on a daily basis—on average about 2.6 glassesi—and the result has been a significant rise in obesity and obesity-related health conditions. On top of that, a recent Arizona State University study found that a diet high in fructosemay increase the overall risk of death in both men and women. Specifically, the risk of death from all causes was 10% higher in women who ate the most total fructose and 6% higher in men.ii
ii Am J Clin Nutr May 2014 vol. 99 no. 5 1077-1088.