ATLANTA (October 16, 2014) — A new study which claims that fructose may play a unique role in the development of obesity and diabetes is limited by several study flaws, including contradicting research, exaggerated consumption levels, small sample size and reliance on animal research.
In the 21-person study “Fructose ingestion acutely stimulates circulating FGF21 levels in humans”, research subjects — some healthy and some with metabolic syndrome — participated in three trials in which they consumed one of three beverages made up of either fructose, glucose or a combination. After consumption, blood samples were taken with researchers looking for impact on the fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), a recently discovered hormone produced in the liver and in fat tissue. Previous research has hypothesized that FGF21 may play a role in glucose and fat homeostasis in rodents and researchers in this study tested this hypothesis in humans. (More about the study located here.) Researchers concluded that FGF21 may be involved in fructose metabolism and that fructose may be associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
However, the study suffered from several limitations that hamper the generalizability of the findings, including: