Why This Sugar Makes You Eat More

May 7th 2015

Laura Donovan

If you've ever been starving after too much soda, don't be alarmed. Soda is often high in fructose, and a new study from the National Academy of Sciences found that this type of sugar can make you crave high calorie, fatty foods.

Testing reactions to two different sugars, researchers gave two dozen people beverages containing 75 grams of fructose one day and 75 grams of sugar on another. On both days, the study authors showed images of fatty foods to the participants and observed that the people were hungrier after consuming fructose than they were after having glucose. Researchers explained to Live Science that glucose can pass along the message to the brain that the body is full. Fructose does not have that affect. 

"Fructose fails to stimulate hormones like insulin, which provides satiety signals to the brain," study author Dr. Kathleen A. Page told the publication. 

The study authors also gave participants two "reward" options for assisting with their research: receive compensation in a couple weeks or have the opportunity to eat tasty food right then and there. After consuming fructose, most people wanted instant satisfaction in the form of a treat.

"People were willing to forgo monetary rewards that were delayed by a month, more after they consumed fructose compared to glucose, so that they could get immediate food rewards after the study," Page said to Live Science.



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Two years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a similar study suggesting that consuming fructose causes more weight gain than glucose. With high-fructose corn syrup (HFCP) in soft drinks and many foods, some would argue this isn't helping our country's obesity problem. According to 2014 findings from the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), more than a third of Americans are obese. A 2004 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a possible connection between HFCP and obesity as well.

"[C]alorically sweetened beverages may enhance caloric overconsumption," reads the report. "Thus, the increase in consumption of HFCS has a temporal relation to the epidemic of obesity, and the overconsumption of HFCS in calorically sweetened beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity ... we believe that an argument can now be made that the use of HFCS in beverages should be reduced and that HFCS should be replaced with alternative noncaloric sweeteners."

Or you could just slowly break up with soda like most of the country. Earlier this year, Beverage Digest published a report showing a 29-year low in soda consumption, with additional soda industry tracker Beverage Marketing finding that people consumed only 12.76 billion gallons of soda in 2014. It was the tenth consecutive year of decreased soda consumption, so maybe, just maybe, Americans are seeing that soft drinks aren't so sweet after all.