The Effect of Different Fructose Diets on the Lifespan of C. elegans

(1) Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton, Massachusetts
Cover photo for The Effect of Different Fructose Diets on the Lifespan of <em>C. elegans</em>

Sugar, such as fructose, is widely known to be a dietary cause for many health complications including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer, and is an enticing yet harmful substance if consumed in large quantities. Fructose, typically in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, is the sugar most commonly found in fast foods. Thus, we chose to study the health effects of a high fructose diet on humans through experimentation on Caenorhabditis elegans, which are effective model organisms due to their rapid reproduction rate and stability despite variations in environmental conditions. We hypothesized that increasing sugar intake in C. elegans will reduce C. elegans survival, though moderate amounts of sugar may increase survival. The results show that the concentration of fructose had a significant influence on the survival rate of C. elegans. The C. elegans receiving 0% and 5% fructose concentration treatments had much higher survival rates than the 15% plates, which had zero surviving C. elegans after six days. After statistical analysis, the 5% and 15% plates were determined to yield significantly different survival rates. Thus, there is sufficient data to conclude that diets containing high levels of fructose negatively impact C. elegans life, suggesting that diets high in sugars such as high fructose corn syrup are harmful to humans. However, it was not possible to discern any significant difference between the 0% and 5% treatments from the data generated. Further experimentation would be needed to investigate the effects of diets containing a moderate amount of sugar.

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