Fructose May Cause Kids' Mysterious Stomach Pains

Sugary drinks can lead to persistent abdominal discomfort.

Fructose May Cause Kids’ Mysterious Stomach Pains

Sugary drinks can lead to persistent abdominal discomfort.

-Jane Farrell

A young boy drinking a root beer float

Children who have persistent stomach pain and symptoms like gas, bloating and diarrhea can get better by cutting back on fructose (fruit sugar), according to the results of a recent study.

Researchers tested 245 children, aged 2 to 18, who had the symptoms and found that 132 of them were unable to digest fructose. But when the 132 kids followed a low-fructose diet, symptoms vanished in 88 of the cases. The study was presented at a meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology. The preliminary findings were reported on the website

Read A Dietitian’s Advice on Fiber

“These findings demonstrate how a simple diagnostic test and a simple dietary intervention can have a big impact on a common clinical problem,” said researcher Bisher Abdullah, M.D., of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Wash. Abdullah told the website that the “principal culprit” in the kids’ symptoms was “fructose-sweetened soft drinks,” adding, “The human body was not designed to handle that much fructose. I tell my patients and parents that cavemen didn’t have Coke or Pepsi.”

However, following a low-fructose diet doesn’t simply mean cutting out soda, Abdullah said. Fructose is a naturally-occurring substance in a number of foods, including apples, melons and honey. Because developing a low-fructose eating plan is complicated, Abdullah suggested consulting a dietitian.

The low-fructose eating plan seems to have another benefit as well: Most of the kids who were fructose-intolerant were overweight or obese, Abdullah said, and following a diet lower in fruit sugar helped them lose weight. (medpagetoday)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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