The Sugar Association responded to recent media coverage of a study looking at the effect of “added sugars on mice.”
According to researchers at the University of Utah, “Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health.” The study appeared on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers discovered that when mice were fed a diet of 25 percent extra sugar, which is similar to a human diet plus three cans of soda per day, females died at twice the normal rate and males were 25 percent less likely to keep territory and reproduce.
According to a statement released by The Sugar Association and obtained by the Sacramento Bee, the mice were not given sugar. Thus, The Sugar Association says calling this research a “sugar study” is incorrect. The researchers admit in their study that they “selected a diet containing fructose and glucose monosaccharides in a one to one ratio, approximating the 55:42 and 42:53 ratios found in the two common forms of HFCS.”
“The significance of this detail is that the glucose and fructose in sucrose are naturally bonded together,” Sugar Association President and CEO Andrew Briscoe in a statement. “HFCS lacks this bond and consequently contains free fructose. Sugar and the various formulations of HFCS are molecularly different—they are not the same product yet too often, and erroneously, HFCS is referred to as an ‘added sugar.’ Only sugar is sugar.”
According to senior author Wayne Potts, a biology professor at the University of Utah, the results of the study reveal the unfavorable effects of added sugars at human-relevant levels.
First author James Ruff added that the test showed that the mice “died more often and tended to have fewer” babies when fed a diet of 25 percent extra sugar, meaning that levels of sugar that people commonly ingest hurt the well being of mice.
For the test, the researchers placed groups of mice in room-sized pens, called “mouse barns,” with several nest boxes. According to the researchers, this setup helped the mice compete more naturally for mates and territories, and thus revealed subtle toxic impacts on their performance.
The researchers found that after 32 weeks in the room-sized pens, 35 percent of the females fed extra sugar died, twice the 17 percent death rate for female control mice. They also discovered that there was no different in the 55 percent death among males who did and did not get extra sugar. Ruff noted that males have much higher death rates than females in natural settings because they compete for territory.
Potts and Ruff found that males on the extra-sugar diet acquired and kept 26 percent fewer territories than males on the control diet. Control males kept 47 percent of the territories, while extra-sugar mice kept less than 36 percent.
The researchers also discovered that males on the extra-sugar diet produced 25 percent fewer offspring than control males.
“Our test shows an adverse outcome from the added-sugar diet that couldn’t be detected by conventional tests,” Potts noted.
Is Briscoe right when he says that “The confusion about food is constantly fueled by extremists who sensationalize each and every new piece of research and distort the facts about sugar for the sake of a catchy headline or controversial story?”