Sugar and metabolic health – a systematic review of human intervention studies
The effects of sucrose on metabolic health: a systematic review of human intervention studies in healthy adults.
Sigrid Gibson*, Pippa Gunn*, Anna Wittekind^, & Richard Cottrell^.
*Sig-Nurture Ltd., Surrey, UK
^World Sugar Research Organisation, London, UK
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2013; 53:591-614.
We systematically reviewed interventions substituting sucrose for other macronutrients in apparently healthy adults to assess impact on cardiometabolic risk indicators. Multiple databases were searched to January 2012 and abstracts assessed by 2 reviewers. Twenty-five studies (29 papers) met inclusion criteria but varied in quality and duration. Weaknesses included small subject numbers, unclear reporting of allocation, unusual dietary regimes, differences in energy intake, fat composition or fibre between conditions, unhealthy subjects, heterogeneity of results, and selective reporting. Insufficient data were available to draw reliable conclusions except with regard to the substitution of sucrose for starch, where effects on plasma lipids were inconsistent, mostly explicable by other factors, or nonsignificant. Based on fewer studies, there was little evidence for significant effects on plasma glucose or insulin. Sucrose substitution for starch up to 25% energy does not appear to have adverse effects on cardiometabolic risk indicators in apparently healthy adults. Furthermore, there is no consistent evidence that restricting sucrose in an isoenergetic diet would affect risk indicators, except perhaps in people with certain pre-existing metabolic abnormalities. Larger, high-quality studies, lasting several months and studying a wider range of outcomes, are needed in order to provide evidence on which to base public health initiatives.