The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, analysed how the addition of one litre per day of either a sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened soda drink affected the food intake, mood, and body weight of 41 obese women over a four week period.
Led by Professor Marie Reid at the University of Hull, the research team found that the women consuming the sugar-sweetened drinks, reported to have reduced their habitual energy intake by 1,584kJ (378kcal) by the 4th week, compensating for 88% of the additional energy being provided by the study drinks.
The team noted that in contradiction to concerns that obese people may have more difficulty regulating their diets than normal-weight people, in fact the current study suggests that obese women are able to compensate for additional calories.
"This line of research suggests that sucrose (sugar) given blind is compensated for elsewhere in the diet and does not lead to weight gain," said Professor Richard Hammersley, co-author of the study. "The women ate fewer carbohydrates from other sources, and also reduced their intake of energy from other parts of the diet."
"Sucrose does not cause weight gain any more than any other type of food. However, the over-consumption of any food and drink in everyday life may well be problematic".
The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, grant no. D12497) and Sugar Nutrition UK (formerly the Sugar Bureau). The authors stated that neither BBSRC nor Sugar Nutrition UK "had any role in the design, analysis and interpretation of the study or in the writing of the paper."
The four week study aimed to determine the effect of consuming 1-litre a day of either a sugar-sweetened or an artificially-sweetened drink, along with their normal dietary intake in 41 obese women.
Participants drank 4 x 250ml bottles of their allocated beverage each day, and completed food, mood and activity diaries, as well as having measures taken by researchers of body weight and composition. Twenty women were allocated to the sugar-sweetened drink group, which provided an additional 1800kJ (430kcal) of energy to their diets. The other 21 women consumed a diet variety of the same drink that was artificially sweetened with aspartame, and provided an additional 170kJ (41kcal) a day.
All women were told that they were consuming sugar-sweetened drinks and the bottles were disguised, so that the study could be performed as a single-blinded, controlled trial.
Comparisons were made of the women's diets over the 4 weeks of the study found that women consuming the sugar-sweetened drinks reported to have reduced their habitual energy intake by 1,584kJ (378kcal) by the 4th week, compensating for 88% of the additional energy being provided by the study drinks.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1017/S0007114513002687
" Effects on obese women of the sugar sucrose added to the diet over 28 d: a quasi-randomised, single-blind, controlled trial"
Authors: Marie Reid, Richard Hammersley, Maresa Duffy, Carrie Ballantyne