High Intake of Free Sugars, Fructose, and Sucrose Is Associated with Weight Gain in Japanese Men

J Nutr. 2020 Feb 1;150(2):322-330. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz227.


Background: Available evidence for associations between sugar intake and body weight is largely from short-term controlled trials and studies focusing on sugar-sweetened beverages. Studies on long-term weight change related to the intake of types of sugar are thus needed.

Objective: We examined the associations between weight change and the intake of various types of carbohydrates, including starch, total sugars, and free or naturally occurring sugars and saccharides (i.e., glucose, fructose, sucrose, and lactose), among Japanese men and women.

Methods: This prospective cohort study included 14,971 residents of Takayama City in Japan who were aged 35-69 y at the first survey in 1992 and responded to a self-administrated questionnaire at the second survey in 2002. We excluded those with cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke, or diabetes on the first survey and those with missing information about body weight on both surveys, leaving 13,229 participants for analysis (5879 men and 7350 women). Mean (95% CI) values of 10-y weight change according to types of carbohydrates were estimated using linear regression models with adjustment for total energy intake and other dietary and lifestyle factors. Dietary intake was assessed at the first survey using a validated FFQ.

Results: Among men, free sugar intake was associated with weight gain and the estimated means (95% CIs) of weight change were -0.60 (-0.67, -0.54), -0.31 (-0.38, -0.24), -0.12 (-0.19, -0.05), and 0.20 (0.13, 0.27) kg from the first to fourth quartiles (P-trend = 0.002). Moreover, high intakes of sucrose and fructose were associated with weight gain (P-trend: 0.018 for sucrose and 0.001 for fructose). Among women, the intake of any type of carbohydrate was not significantly associated with weight change.

Conclusions: These results suggested that high intakes of free sugars, sucrose, and fructose were associated with long-term weight gain among Japanese men.

Keywords: Asia; body weight changes; cohort studies; prospective studies; starch; sugars.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beverages
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Fructose / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sugars / administration & dosage*
  • Weight Gain*


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sugars
  • Fructose