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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #335868

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Reducing added sugar intake increases the relative reinforcing value of high-sugar foods

item Flack, Kyle
item Casperson, Shanon
item Jahns, Lisa
item Roemmich, James
item JOHNSON, LUANN - University Of North Dakota

Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2016
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Citation: Flack, K.D., Casperson, S.L., Jahns, L.A., Roemmich, J.N., Johnson, L. 2017. Reducing added sugar intake increases the relative reinforcing value of high-sugar foods [abstract]. Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 31:311.3.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Objective: To determine whether reducing added sugar intake to <10% of calories for 1 week changes the relative reinforcing value (RRV) of foods high in sugar and to test whether changes in RRV of high-sugar foods differed between non-overweight and obese adults. Background: The 2015-2020 DGA focuses on healthy eating patterns, giving 5 overarching guidelines and recommendations on healthy eating patterns. One guideline is to limit calories from added sugars to less than 10 percent of calories per day. Foods high in added sugars (e.g., sugar-sweetened drinks, desserts, candy) are reinforcing and reducing their consumption in order to adhere to the DGA may paradoxically increase their RRV. Methods: Twenty seven adults aged 18-39 years with a BMI below 25 kg/m2 (n=18) or above 30 kg/m2 (n=9) who reported consuming >10% of their daily calories from added sugar completed a 1-week controlled feeding intervention. Participants consumed ~3% of their daily calories from added sugars while maintaining energy balance and the average macronutrient distribution for adults over the age of 20 (approximately 16% energy protein, 51% energy carbohydrate, 33% energy fat). Prior to beginning and on the seventh day of the dietary intervention participants completed an operant responding task where the RRV a high-added sugar food (e.g. skittles, tootsie roll) was determined relative to a low-added sugar food (e.g. Potato chips, pretzels). The RRV of added sugars was calculated as the total number of sessions completed in the operant responding task for access to a high-added sugar food/(sessions completed for high-added sugar food + sessions completed for low-added sugar food). Prior to the RRV test, hunger and satiety VAS were completed. Results: RRV of high-added sugar foods increased (p<0.001) from 0.04 at baseline to 1.16 at post. There were no differences in changes in the RRV of high-added sugar foods between healthy weight and obese participants. Hunger and satiety VAS scores were not covariates of RRV change. Conclusions: In adults, the RRV of foods high in added sugar increases when access to these foods is reduced for seven days below their base rate. This presents a potential mechanistic barrier to meeting the DGA recommendations for reducing added sugar and why many Americans have difficulty adhering to a reduced added sugar intake diet and have lower diet quality scores.