Increased sugary soda consumption may be balanced by lower caloric intake, study finds

Increased sugar from soda may be counterbalanced by lower caloric intakes of other foods, according to the 'quasi-randomised, single-blind, controlled trial'

Obese women who are given additional soft drinks in their diet voluntarily respond by reducing other calories consumed, according to new research backed by Sugar Nutrition UK.

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."

Study details

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

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Comments (6)

Dave Mayo - 12 Nov 2013 | 11:04

Terrible science

So, the sugar sweetened group still ate more, but mostly compensated for the increase in calories by the 4th week? Are we not taking in to consideration the overwhelming science that shows that people who consume artificial sweeteners tend to overeat to make up for the calories they missed from the artificial sweetner? Without a valid control, which is probably impossible in the tested scenario, you can't say that sugar leads to a decrease in caloric intake, you can only say that people who drink sweetened beverages consume the same number of calories independent of whether the sweetener contains calories.

12-Nov-2013 at 23:04 GMT

Phil Roberts - 31 Oct 2013 | 02:01

is 88% less than 100%?

Do I read this correctly? They reduced by 88% the extra intake, which means that they added 12% of the 430Kcal so an extra 52Kcal per day = 385Kcal per week. So the summary is they still had more calories but not 100% of the extra and will get more and more obese by taking these drinks.

31-Oct-2013 at 14:01 GMT

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