Journal of African Association of Physiological Sciences

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Excessive consumption of fructose-containing sugars: An emerging threat for developing nations?

G.J. Maarman, A.E. Mendham, H.P. Madlala, E.O. Ojuka


Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and processed foods has increased in the last decade in developed countries. This has been associated with the prevalence of diet-induced obesity and type-2 diabetes mellitus, albeit a causal relationship has not been proven. Although sugar-sweetened beverages and foods contain both fructose and glucose, it is now clear that fructose poses the highest health risk when consumed excessively. In studies from the United States of America and Australia, hyper-caloric diets with high concentrations of fructose, have been shown to have adverse metabolic effects. At high concentrations, fructose increases plasma triglycerides, stimulates hepatic de novo lipogenesis and reduces insulin sensitivity. In developing countries, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods is on the rise, particularly in the African continent. This review discusses the adverse health effects of excessive consumption of fructose, the increase in fructose consumption in Africa, and the potential threat that increased fructose consumption might have on developing countries such as those found in the African continent. The review further provides recommendations and precautionary measures that could be applied in these countries.

Keywords: Fructose, Diabetes, Obesity, Public Nutrition, Africa

AJOL African Journals Online