Comparison of breath testing with fructose and high fructose corn syrups in health and IBS

S. M. Skoog, A. E. Bharucha, A. R. Zinsmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Although incomplete fructose absorption has been implicated to cause gastrointestinal symptoms, foods containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contain glucose. Glucose increases fructose absorption in healthy subjects. Our hypothesis was that fructose intolerance is less prevalent after HFCS consumption compared to fructose alone in healthy subjects and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Breath hydrogen levels and gastrointestinal symptoms were assessed after 40 g of fructose (12% solution) prepared either in water or as HFCS, administered in double-blind randomized order on 2 days in 20 healthy subjects and 30 patients with IBS. Gastrointestinal symptoms were recorded on 100-mm Visual Analogue Scales. Breath hydrogen excretion was more frequently abnormal (P < 0.01) after fructose (68%) than HFCS (26%) in controls and patients. Fructose intolerance (i.e. abnormal breath test and symptoms) was more prevalent after fructose than HFCS in healthy subjects (25%vs 0%, P = 0.002) and patients (40%vs 7%, P = 0.062). Scores for several symptoms (e.g. bloating r = 0.35) were correlated (P ≤ 0.01) to peak breath hydrogen excretion after fructose but not HFCS; in the fructose group, this association did not differ between healthy subjects and patients. Symptoms were not significantly different after fructose compared to HFCS. Fructose intolerance is more prevalent with fructose alone than with HFCS in health and in IBS. The prevalence of fructose intolerance is not significantly different between health and IBS. Current methods for identifying fructose intolerance should be modified to more closely reproduce fructose ingestion in daily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-511
Number of pages7
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Bloating
  • Fructose intolerance
  • Functional bowel disorder
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology


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