FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who consume large amounts of the food and beverage sweetener fructose show evidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk in their blood, a new study finds.
Fructose is found in fruits, while a form of fructose -- high-fructose corn syrup -- is widely used in processed foods and beverages. It's believed that adolescents' growing bodies crave the strong sweetener and food and beverage companies' advertising often targets young consumers, according to the Medical College of Georgia researchers.
Their study of 559 teens aged 14 to 18 found that diets high in fructose were associated with higher blood pressure; diabetes-related measures such as higher fasting glucose and insulin resistance; and inflammatory factors that contribute to heart and vascular disease.
Teens who consumed large amounts of fructose also tended to have lower levels of cardiovascular protectors such as HDL ("good") cholesterol and the protein adiponectin.
The connection between consuming lots of fructose and cardiovascular risk factors was even more pronounced in kids with excess belly fat, which is another known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, said the study in the February issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
"It is so very important to provide a healthy balance of high-quality food to our children and to really pay close attention to the fructose and sucrose they are consuming at their home or anyone else's," study co-first author Dr. Vanessa Bundy, a pediatric resident, said in a college news release.
"The nutrition that caregivers provide their children will either contribute to their overall health and development or potentially contribute to cardiovascular disease at an early age," she added.
The best way for parents and caregivers to encourage healthy nutrition among teens is to be good role models, Bundy said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about teens' nutritional needs.