Sorbitol as a sweetener in the diet of insulin-dependent diabetes

Acta Med Scand. 1987;221(2):165-70. doi: 10.1111/j.0954-6820.1987.tb01262.x.


We compared sorbitol given alone and as part of a mixed meal to nine insulin-dependent diabetics (IDD's) during continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII). Blood glucose, sorbitol and breath hydrogen + methane were measured following six test meals: Pure glucose, sorbitol and lactulose, a mixed meal alone, and sweetened with sorbitol and sucrose. Blood glucose increase was very small after lactulose and sorbitol, significantly larger after glucose. A considerable increase in breath hydrogen + methane appeared after sorbitol and lactulose, but not after glucose. No differences in blood glucose responses were found after the mixed meal alone or sweetened with sorbitol and sucrose. A sustained low level increase in breath hydrogen + methane occurred after all solid meals. Sorbitol was not detected in serum after any meal.

Conclusion: Sorbitol ingested by IDD's during CSII in watery solution is not absorbed in the small intestine and causes osmotic diarrhoea. Ingested in a composite meal it does not affect blood glucose and does not cause osmotic diarrhoea.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Breath Tests
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Lactulose / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Sorbitol / administration & dosage*
  • Sorbitol / blood
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Lactulose
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose