Excessive sugar consumption may be a difficult habit to break: A view from the brain and body

Matthew S. Tryon, Kimber Stanhope, Elissa S. Epel, Ashley E. Mason, Rashida Brown, Valentina Medici, Peter J Havel, Kevin D. Laugero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context: Sugar overconsumption and chronic stress are growing health concerns because they both may increase the risk for obesity and its related diseases. Rodent studies suggest that sugar consumption may activate a glucocorticoid-metabolic-brain-negative feedback pathway, which may turn off the stress response and thereby reinforce habitual sugar overconsumption. Objective: The objective of the study was to test our hypothesized glucocorticoid-metabolic-brain model in women consuming beverages sweetened with either aspartame of sucrose. Design: This was a parallel-arm, double-masked diet intervention study. Setting: The study was conducted at the University of California, Davis, Clinical and Translational Science Center's Clinical Research Center and the University of California, Davis, Medical Center Imaging Research Center. Participants: Nineteen women (age range 18-40 y) with a body mass index (range 20-34 kg/m<sup>2</sup>) who were a subgroup from a National Institutes of Health-funded investigation of 188 participants assigned to eight experimental groups. Intervention: The intervention consisted of sucrose- or aspartame-sweetened beverage consumption three times per day for 2 weeks. Main Outcome Measures: Salivary cortisol and regional brain responses to the Montreal Imaging Stress Task were measured. Results: Compared with aspartame, sucrose consumption was associated with significantly higher activity in the left hippocampus (P = .001). Sucrose, but not aspartame, consumption associated with reduced (P = .024) stress-induced cortisol. The sucrose group also had a lower reactivity to naltrexone, significantly (P = .041) lower nausea, and a trend (P = .080) toward lower cortisol. Conclusion: These experimental findings support a metabolic-brain-negative feedback pathway that is affected by sugar and may make some people under stress more hooked on sugar and possibly more vulnerable to obesity and its related conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2239-2247
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume100
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Fingerprint

Aspartame
Sugars
Habits
Sucrose
Brain
Hydrocortisone
Beverages
Glucocorticoids
Obesity
Brain models
Health
Feedback
Imaging techniques
Naltrexone
National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
Diagnostic Imaging
Nutrition
Research
Nausea
Rodentia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Cite this

Excessive sugar consumption may be a difficult habit to break : A view from the brain and body. / Tryon, Matthew S.; Stanhope, Kimber; Epel, Elissa S.; Mason, Ashley E.; Brown, Rashida; Medici, Valentina; Havel, Peter J; Laugero, Kevin D.

In: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 100, No. 6, 01.06.2015, p. 2239-2247.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tryon, Matthew S. ; Stanhope, Kimber ; Epel, Elissa S. ; Mason, Ashley E. ; Brown, Rashida ; Medici, Valentina ; Havel, Peter J ; Laugero, Kevin D. / Excessive sugar consumption may be a difficult habit to break : A view from the brain and body. In: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2015 ; Vol. 100, No. 6. pp. 2239-2247.
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