Another study has added a new piece to the puzzle of sweeteners. Scientists at Yale University compared how people who had consumed drinks sweetened with fructose to those same people when they consumed drinks sweetened with glucose — and why the first group was left hungrier.

The Independent reports that this is the first test to show that “fructose, a sugar that saturates the American diet, can trigger brain changes that may lead to overeating.”

For the study, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans to track blood flow in the brain in 20 young, normal-weight people before and after they had drinks containing glucose or fructose in two sessions several weeks apart.

Scans showed that drinking glucose "turns off or suppresses the activity of areas of the brain that are critical for reward and desire for food," said one study leader, Yale University endocrinologist Dr Robert Sherwin. With fructose, "we don't see those changes," he said. "As a result, the desire to eat continues — it isn't turned off."

What we have here is another interesting study that suggests that fructose — including the much debated high fructose corn syrup that’s added to so many of our foods — works differently in our body than glucose. Instead of a study that suggests fructose metabolizes differently and might be a factor in gaining weight, this study suggests that someone might eat more after consuming fructose than glucose. So while the fructose might not be a direct contributing factor to weight gain, it could contribute to eating more. More food equals more calories. More calories equal weight gain.

While no studies about how the various types of sugars affect our bodies have been conclusive, the findings in the Yale study give those of us who are wary of high fructose corn syrup another reason to remain cautious. We don’t know yet what health problems this sweetener may cause. Until we know for sure, it’s smarter to be safe and consume as little as possible while limiting the amount of sugar from all sources.

Related post on MNN: High fructose corn syrup is not sugar, FDA says

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