Maltodextrin can produce similar metabolic and cognitive effects to those of sucrose in the rat

Appetite. 2014 Jun;77:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.02.011. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


In the context of the well-documented metabolic and behavioural effects of supplementing rats' diets with access to a sucrose solution, the aim of this study was to compare the impact of 10% sucrose with that of an isoenergetic (10.4%) solution of hydrolysed starch, maltodextrin. This polysaccharide is metabolised at least as rapidly as sucrose and is also very palatable to rats, but does not contain fructose. Each of three experiments contained three groups: one given a sucrose solution, one given a maltodextrin solution and a control group maintained on standard chow and water alone. In Experiment 1 the sucrose and maltodextrin groups were given their supplementary drinks for 2 h each day, while in Experiments 2 and 3 these groups had 24-h access to their supplements. Ad libitum access to maltodextrin produced at least as rapid weight gain as sucrose and in Experiment 2 retroperitoneal fat mass was greater in the two carbohydrate groups than in the control group. Moreover, in Experiment 3, impaired performance on a location recognition task was also found in both carbohydrate groups after only 17 days on the diets. These results indicate that the harmful effects of excess sucrose consumption can also be produced by another rapidly absorbed carbohydrate that does not contain fructose.

Keywords: Maltodextrin; Rats; Spatial cognition; Sucrose; Weight gain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Dietary Sucrose / metabolism
  • Dietary Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fructose / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Polysaccharides / adverse effects
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spatial Learning / drug effects*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Polysaccharides
  • Fructose
  • maltodextrin