Fatty Liver Disease and High Fructose Corn Syrup

During the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Atlanta, Georgia, researchers presented the findings of a new study in which they found that high fructose consumption was linked with higher rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and that Mexican Americans were most affected. 

Previous studies had shown that diets high in sugar from fructose or high fructose corn syrup increase the risk of NAFLD. 

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. It presents with an accumulation of fat stored in liver cells. 

Some individuals with NAFLD can develop nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.

Mexican Americans at Higher Risk 

For the study, researchers examined data from 3,292 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017-2018, which included data on fructose consumption, demographic factors including ethnicity, and incidence of NAFLD. 

31.3% of the participants were in the moderate fructose consumption group, and 35.5% were in the high consumption group. 48% of Mexican Americans and 44% of non-Hispanic Blacks were in the high fructose consumption group compared to 33% of non-Hispanic Whites. 

The team found that 70% of Mexican Americans in the high consumption group had NAFLD.

The researchers explained that high fructose corn syrup can lead to NAFLD by different mechanisms. It can increase the amount of fat made by the liver and also increase inflammation in the liver, while also causing changes in how the liver metabolizes glucose. 

According to studies, high fructose corn syrup can also cause changes in the gut microbiome composition and weaken the integrity of the gut’s intestinal barrier, which allows microbes and toxins to gain access to the portal vein circulation and lead to increased fat deposition and liver inflammation. 


Annie Lennon. (2022, Jun 17). High fructose corn syrup intake linked to liver disease. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:



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