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The obesogenic effect of high fructose exposure during early development.

Goran MI, Dumke K, Bouret SG, Kayser B, Walker RW, Blumberg B. (2013) Nat Rev Endocrinol.  9(8) 494-500. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.108. Epub 2013 Jun 4. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


Obesogens are compounds that disrupt the function and development of adipose tissue or the normal metabolism of lipids, leading to an increased risk of obesity and associated diseases.

Evidence for the adverse effects of industrial and agricultural obesogens, such as tributyltin, bisphenol A and other organic pollutants is well-established.

Current evidence suggests that high maternal consumption of fat promotes obesity and increased metabolic risk in offspring, but less is known about the effects of other potential nutrient obesogens.

Widespread increase in dietary fructose consumption over the past 30 years is associated with chronic metabolic and endocrine disorders and alterations in feeding behaviour that promote obesity.

In this Perspectives, we examine the evidence linking high intakes of fructose with altered metabolism and early obesity.

We review the evidence suggesting that high fructose exposure during critical periods of development of the fetus, neonate and infant can act as an obesogen by affecting lifelong neuroendocrine function, appetite control, feeding behaviour, adipogenesis, fat distribution and metabolic systems.

These changes ultimately favour the long-term development of obesity and associated metabolic risk.


Mounting evidence from many different sources, reviewed here, implicates excessive fructose consumption in early life as an important factor contributing to the current epidemic of childhood obesity.

Nutrition in early life is now known to have lifelong effects on the expression and regulation of many genes - including those involved in hormonal balance and energy metabolism.

These 'nutritional programming' effects indicate that if the growing problems of obesity and Type 2 diabetes are to be tackled effectively, much more attention needs to be paid to improving the nutritional status of mothers and infants - and reducing fructose intakes in pregnancy and infancy.

Other research shows that fructose not only contributes to insulin resistance and other features of the 'metabolic syndrome' associated with Type 2 diabetes and obesity, but can also impair brain function - although a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may offer some protection against fructose-induced the memory and learning problems.  See: