Effect of honey versus sucrose on appetite, appetite-regulating hormones, and postmeal thermogenesis

J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Oct;29(5):482-93. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2010.10719885.


Objective: Increased per capita consumption of sweeteners may be responsible in part for the rising prevalence of obesity in the United States. Recent studies suggest that consumption of honey is not associated with this same obesogenic effect and may have beneficial effects neuro on body weight. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the meal-induced responses of ghrelin and peptide YY(3-36) (PYY(3-36)) and/or meal-induced thermogenesis differ following a honey- versus a sucrose-containing meal.

Methods: In a double-blind randomly assigned study, appetite hormones (ghrelin, PYY(3-36), leptin) and glycemic and thermic responses were evaluated following isoglucidic ∼450 kcal honey- or sucrose-containing breakfasts in 14 healthy, nonobese women (22 ± 3 y). Blood samples and hunger ratings were obtained at baseline and every 30 minutes for 240 minutes following the meal. Meal-induced thermogenesis was measured by indirect calorimetry. Ad libitum food intake was evaluated from a free-choice meal following the test meal.

Results: Honey consumption delayed the postprandial ghrelin response (p = 0.037), enhanced the total PYY (p = 0.007) response, and blunted the glucose response (p = 0.039) compared with consumption of the sucrose-containing meal. Meal-induced insulin response, hunger ratings, thermogenesis, and subsequent ad libitum food intake, however, did not differ (p > 0.10) between diet treatments.

Conclusions: Alterations in meal-induced responses of ghrelin and PYY(3-36) but not meal-induced thermogenesis may be responsible in part for the potential "obesity protective" effect(s) of honey consumption. A blunted glycemic response may be beneficial for reducing glucose intolerance. Further research is required to determine if these findings hold true for obese individuals, for males, or with habitual consumption.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Dietary Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Peptide YY / blood*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology
  • Thermogenesis / drug effects
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Ghrelin
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Peptide YY
  • Sucrose