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Sugar and metabolic health: is there still a debate?

Moore, J. Bernadette; Fielding, Barbara A.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: July 2016 - Volume 19 - Issue 4 - p 303–309
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000289
CARBOHYDRATES: Edited by Luc Tappy and Bettina Mittendorfer

Purpose of review There is considerable political and public awareness of new recommendations to reduce sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages in our diets. It is therefore timely to review the most recent changes in guidelines, with a focus on evidence for metabolic health, recent research in the area and gaps in our knowledge.

Recent findings Sufficient evidence links a high intake of sugar to dental caries and obesity, and high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages in particular to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. This has led to the updating of dietary recommendations related to added sugars in the diet. The effects of specific sugars at usual intakes as part of an isoenergetic diet are less clear. The glycaemic response to food is complex and mediated by many factors, but sugar intake is not necessarily the major component.

Summary There are many challenges faced by healthcare professionals and government bodies in order to improve the health of individuals and nations through evidence-based diets. Sufficiently powered long-term mechanistic studies are still required to provide evidence for the effects of reducing dietary sugars on metabolic health. However, there are many challenges for research scientists in the implementation of these studies.

aDepartment of Nutritional Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey

bSchool of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Correspondence to Dr Barbara A. Fielding, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The Leggett Building, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7WG, UK. Tel: +44 0 1483 68 8649; e-mail: b.fielding@surrey.ac.uk

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