How To Make A High-fat Western Diet Worse: Add Sugar
    By News Staff | June 29th 2014 10:12 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    A new study in mice shows that even short-term consumption of a Western diet rich in saturated fats and fructose is more damaging for healthy liver development than following a high fat diet alone, which provides new insight into the effects of adding fructose to a Western diet high in fat. 

    Dr. Susanna Iossa, who led the study at the University of Naples, Italy, said, “This result points to the harmful effect of adding fructose to the usual western, high-fat diet and, together with other related findings, should stimulate the discussion on the use of fructose and fructose-containing sweeteners in beverages and packaged foods.

    “We performed the research by using an animal model of adult sedentary humans, consisting of adult rats, that were fed for two weeks with either a low-fat diet, a high-fat diet or a diet rich in fat and fructose. This latter diet is very similar in composition to the diet consumed by the large majority of the Western population. After the diet period, we evaluated liver function and we found that the presence of fructose in the high-fat diet exacerbated the impairment of this important metabolic organ, by increasing the build-up of fat in the liver, and decreasing liver insulin sensitivity.

    “Much more research should be undertaken in the future, especially regarding the impact of the high-fat high-fructose diet on other metabolically important organs, in order to establish the real impact of this unhealthy dietary habit on health and well-being.”

    Citation: Crescenzo R, Bianco F, Coppola P, Mazzoli A, Tussellino M, Carotenuto R, Liverini G, Iossa S. (2014) Fructose supplementation worsens the deleterious effects of short-term high-fat feeding on hepatic steatosis and lipid metabolism in adult rats. Experimental Physiology.


    The Standard Western Diet is NOT high in saturated fat. Western diets are high in polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fat consumption dropped steadily throughout the 20th century as vegetable oils replaced saturated fats. That trend accelerated during WW II and then in the 50s and 60s when a combination of bad science and bad politics led to to the misinformation that saturated fats causes heart disease - a concept that is now firmly ingrained in our national consciousness and accepted as fact by most people.

    Exactly so. Animal research suggests omega-6 linoleic acid has a uniquely fattening effect. Excerpt from a Joseph Hibbeln interview:

    "Just as all polyunsaturates are not created equal, all high fat diets are not created equal. A good example of this is an animal study we did where we compared three high fat diets. All with 60% of calories from fat, in mice. We compared high fat diets that resembled the linoleic acid, Omega 6 intakes, comparable to the levels at the beginning of the century, which was about 1 percent of calories, and those high fat diets with 8 percent of calories, more similar to the amount of Omega 6 in the diet simply from soy oil in the U-S diet, today. Moving from 1% to 8% linoleic acid in the mouse diets, not only tripled the levels of arachidonic acids, but also tripled the levels of a critical derivative of arachidonic acids, which is an endogenous cannabinoid, which creates a similar affect to marijuana. So it’s the brains own marijuana like molecules, and we were able to triple the body’s marijuana like hormones, three times higher in the liver and about 20% higher in the brains just by altering the linoleic acid in those two high-fat diets. Normally those high fat diets used for mice in studies are composed of high linoleic acid, found in soybean oil. When we deleted that one single molecule, the Omega 6 fatty acid, we were able to obliterate the ability of a 60% high fat diet to induce obesity in the mice."

    It seems not make sense that the added sugar does not really help with a diet rich in saturated fats. Thank you for sharing this study.

    I think that we live a time where there may be access to the result of many studies. The challenge at this point is perhaps to integrate all of this information. I actually do not think that it is possible for a person to learn everything there is to learn.

    Nonetheless, there just subjects like weight loss that seem to be quite important knowing the positive impact it can have on health conditions many people have been faced with. Yes, there is diabetes, obesity. However, recently I have read that weight loss could also have a positive impact on sleep.

    So, it really goes beyond the desire to look a certain way. This being, there does not seem to be justifications for starving oneself or following workouts that are just too extreme. I mentioned some of my thoughts on this page:

    You may also find there a link to a video that taught me about a phenomenon related to weight loss that I was unaware of.

    If a diet or a workout can't be sustained over the long term, is it really valuable? I doubt it.