The brain responds differently to two forms of sugar, glucose and fructose, a new study says, adding that the consumption of fructose may promote overeating.
Fructose is a simple sugar found in fruit but it is added to many foods as “refined sugar”.
While glucose – the primary energy source for the body – is usually produced through the breakdown of complex carbohydrates.
“Fructose ingestion produces smaller increases in circulating satiety hormones than glucose ingestion,” the researchers said.
To reach this conclusion, lead researcher Kathleen Page from the University of Southern California’ Keck School of Medicine and her colleagues examined brain responses and motivation to eat in 24 young volunteers who drank a beverage containing either glucose or fructose.
They viewed images of food during scans of their brains and reported how much they wanted to eat.
The food cues produced activation in the nucleus accumbens – a part of the brain’s “reward circuit” and increased the desire for food.
Activation in the nucleus accumbens was greater after consuming the fructose drink compared to the glucose drink.
The fructose drink also resulted in greater ratings of hunger and motivation to eat compared with the glucose drink.
“The findings have important public health implications in a society that is inundated with high-sugar foods,” Page said.
The findings were shared at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.