A comprehensive review of research examining the link between sugar intake and weight has confirmed that the sweet stuff plays a role in weight gain and loss.
University of Otago researchers, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, under took an analysis of data from human studies looking specifically at the effects of sugar on body weight. Their research was published this week in the leading medical journal BMJ.
After searching through nearly 8000 trials and 10,000 cohort studies published internationally, the researchers found 68 studies that directly looked at the effects of free sugars on body weight.
Analysis of the combined results of these studies showed that reducing free sugars in the diet has a small but significant effect on body weight in adults – an average reduction of 0.8 kg. Increasing sugar intake was associated with a corresponding 0.75 kg increase in body weight.
The authors of the research, led by Prof Jim Mann, conclude that “when considering the rapid weight gain that occurs after an increased intake of sugars, it seems reasonable to conclude that advice relating to sugars intake is a relevant component of a strategy to reduce the high risk of overweight and obesity in most countries.”
In an editorial published alongside the research in BMJ, US researchers backed the study, calling for action to limit dietary sugars particularly in soft drinks, saying “Reducing the amount of sugar consumed in drinks deserves special attention because of the strength of the evidence and the ease with which excessive sugar is consumed in this form”.
You can read more about the research in this media release from the University of Otago.
National media coverage of the research includes:
New Zealand Herald: Kiwi study seeks to clear up sugar debate
Yahoo! NZNews: Sugar study calls for global plan to tackle obesity
Stuff.co.nz: Scientists Confirm Sugar Is A Dieting Evil
3 News: Sugar intake linked to weight – Otago study
NZ City News: Sugar intake linked to weight: Otago study
Radio New Zealand: Cutting sugar helps weight loss, research shows
Otago Daily Times: Sugar research ‘gold standard’ quality
MSN Health: Sugar intake linked to weight: NZ study