Added sugars have been associated with negative effects on health, most important of which are cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of mortality in the US. They supply around 16% of the total calories in the American diet, up from less than 11% in the late 1970s. Under-reporting and subjectivity in self-assessment studies of sugar intake have so far prevented conclusive evidence for the relationship between added sugar intake and negative health effects.
A. Hope Jahren and colleagues from the University of Hawaii and the Virginia Tech assessed the potential of δ13C measurements of different biological substrates for the evaluation of added sugar intake. 78% of added sugars come from C4 plants which differ from other plants on their δ13C values by as much as 20‰, while the uncertainty in measuring these values is usually less than 0.1‰.
Previous studies suggest that the δ13C value of blood is a promising biomarker for added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages in medium-term time-frame. Fingerstick-based blood sampling is especially convenient because it is non-invasive and requires minimal equipment and training, while the samples are easy to transport and store. Specific compound approaches are also discussed, with the hemoglobin A1c being a potential biomarker not susceptible to short-term changes in diet.
Although continued research is needed, δ13C is shown to be a promising potential biomarker of added sugar intake.
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A. Hope Jahren, Joshua N. Bostic and Brenda M. Davy
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, Advance Article