Fructose, a naturally occurring sugar present in fruits and in high concentrations in corn and corn syrups, was recently reported to influence the metabolic processes which lead to early onset diabetes and heart disease. In a ten week study of volunteers on a high fructose diet, University of California researchers demonstrated a significant increase in fat accumulation in the heart and other visceral organs–the type of fat accumulation which can often lead to metabolic disease. Abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease were also noted. A matched group of volunteers eating an identical diet but with glucose as a sugar instead of fructose did not demonstrate these same changes. Fructose is a common sweetener used in processed foods including cakes, cereals, salad dressing, yogurt and fruit drinks. The researchers speculated that high concentrations of fructose consumed at an early age might be a factor in the increasing incidence of childhood diabetes. “The message that we should take away from this report is to limit sugar consumption in any form,” said Dr. Blackshear.