Added sugars and risk factors for obesity, diabetes and heart disease

Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Mar:40 Suppl 1:S22-7. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2016.10.


The effects of added sugars on various chronic conditions are highly controversial. Some investigators have argued that added sugars increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, few randomized controlled trials are available to support these assertions. The literature is further complicated by animal studies, as well as studies which compare pure fructose to pure glucose (neither of which is consumed to any appreciable degree in the human diet) and studies where large doses of added sugars beyond normal levels of human consumption have been administered. Various scientific and public health organizations have offered disparate recommendations for upper limits of added sugar. In this article, we will review recent randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. We conclude that the normal added sugars in the human diet (for example, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup and isoglucose) when consumed within the normal range of normal human consumption or substituted isoenergetically for other carbohydrates, do not appear to cause a unique risk of obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects*
  • Fructose / adverse effects*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Heart Diseases / etiology*
  • Heart Diseases / metabolism
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects*


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose
  • Glucose