March 19, 2007 (delivered by Newstex) -- Child obesity in developed countries has been associated with increased consumption of fructose-sweetened beverages.

Fructose, a powerful sweetener, is found in most food/beverage products: fruit drinks, soft drinks and iced teas, baby foods, jams and jellies, candies, desserts and baked goodies.

In a study conducted by a team from the University of Barcelona (UB) which investigated the addition of liquid fructose in the diet of laboratory rats, found clues to the molecular mechanism through which the fructose in beverages may alter lipid energy metabolism and cause fatty liver and metabolic syndrome.

According to Dr. Juan Carlos Laguna of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutic Chemistry at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona:

"The most novel finding is that this molecular mechanism is related to an impairment in the leptin signal. Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in the body's energy control; among its peripheral actions, it accelerates fat oxidation in the liver and reduces its synthesis."

Study findings have recently been reported at the journal Hepatology.

From the March 26, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash