After controlling for other factors, the researchers found that higher fructose consumption was associated with increased systolic blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a sign of systemic inflammation) and visceral fat, and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol — all known risks for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
But when they controlled for visceral fat, the effect of fructose alone was weakened. It was apparently not fructose itself, but its tendency to increase visceral fat that led to a rise in risk factors.
“To just say ‘fructose is bad’ is incorrect,” said Norman K. Pollock, the lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Georgia Health Sciences University. “But when calorie intake from fructose is greater than 16 percent of total intake, we’re seeing these risk factors appear.”