Assessing the impact of consumption of a sugar-sweetened drink on physical activity, body fat, and metabolism in the baboon
Over the last several decades the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, has increased dramatically and perhaps not unsurprisingly parallels the increasing rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease seen in this country. Until relatively recently, most research has focused on the role of dietary fats on overall health, but that is changing. Dr. Comuzzie’s team has shown that feeding normal healthy baboons a diet high in both saturated fat and sugar lead to significant increases in fat accumulation, along with significant decreases in insulin sensitivity (an important precursor to the development of type 2 diabetes) in as little as eight weeks. In this study, Dr. Comuzzie’s lab aims to evaluate the impact of simple sugar alone, providing baboons access to a high fructose corn syrup drink for eight weeks while keeping them on a low fat monkey chow. The team will monitor physical activity, as well as changes in glucose regulation and body fat. Such exposure is expected to lead to a significant decrease in physical activity over the course of the study along with increasing body fat and declining glucose control. His team also anticipates seeing elevated LDL (the bad form of cholesterol) and triglycerides, reflecting a broader disruption in key metabolic pathways. This pilot study will be critical for supporting potentially larger, more detailed studies on dietary composition and cardiovascular health utilizing this unique baboon resource.