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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Glycemic Effect of Honey
2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Honey has been used as a sweetener for centuries. Recent data indicate that honey consumption may have beneficial effects upon glucose intolerance, a health issue currently affecting 57 million Americans of every age and ethnicity. In order to evaluate the glycemic effect of honey, we will carry out a human trial assessing biomarkers of blood glucose responses, insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory markers. Animal studies, using a model of obesity-induced glucose intolerance, will be performed to examine physiologic and biochemical mechanisms by which honey ameliorates obesity-induced glucose intolerance. All studies will be carried out at the USDA Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC).

Our primary objective is to determine the glycemic effects of honey in comparison to sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. We hypothesize that honey will promote improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity compared to both sugar and high fructose corn syrup in normal glycemic and glucose intolerant overweight and obese adults as well as in an animal model of insulin resistance. Our specific aims include (1) evaluation of the effects of the consumption of honey vs. HFCS vs. sugar on glucose tolerance in normoglycemic and glucose intolerant humans, and (2) determine the extent to which honey consumption alters the physiologic and biochemical pathways of glucose intolerance.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1) We will evaluate the effect of honey vs. other nutritive sweeteners on insulin sensitivity in 60 overweight adult volunteers. At baseline subjects will be randomized in a Latin square design to one of the nutritive sweeteners (honey, HFCS 55, sucrose) and undergo an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). They will then consume 50g of CHO of the assigned treatment daily for a 14 day period followed by a repeat OGTT. A wash out period of 1-2 weeks will be carried out before assignment to the 2nd and 3rd treatments. 2) Rodent studies will be performed to complement the clinical studies described above. We will utilize a controlled model of obesity-induced glucose intolerance to define the positive effects of honey consumption upon insulin-resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation and define the mechanisms for these positive effects.


3.Progress Report:

Advertisements were placed in the Dakota Student, UND Newsletter, Grand Forks Herald, and Around the Forks Newsletter. We are trying to place ads in the Grand Forks Air Force Base Newsletter. Flyers were printed and dispersed to retail outlets in the area. We also featured the study at the health fair held at the Alerus Center.

A total of 211 people completed the online application, 112 people signed the consent; 30 did not qualify; 13 withdrew after starting the study; 13 declined participation after screening; 3 did not schedule after signing consent; 5 participants were unable to give blood and withdrew; 40 people completed the study; 8 people are currently in the study.

ARS PI monitoring activities to evaluate research progress included: phone calls/ conference calls, email communications, discussions at professional conferences/ meetings, and review of Accomplishment Report.


Last Modified: 11/21/2014
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