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J Nutr. 2014 Jun;144(6):902-5. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.186213. Epub 2014 Apr 9.

Serum carbon isotope values change in adults in response to changes in sugar-sweetened beverage intake.

Author information

  • 1Department of Epidemiology and.
  • 2School of Earth and Ocean Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.
  • 3Department of Epidemiology and Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.
  • 4Program of Epidemiology, Louisiana State University School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA; and.
  • 5Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.
  • 6Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA


Serum carbon isotope values [13C-to-12C serum carbon isotope ratio (δ(13)C)], which reflect consumption of corn- and cane-based foods, differ between persons consuming high and low amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). In this study, we determined whether serum δ(13)C changes in response to change in SSB intake during an 18-mo behavioral intervention trial. Data were from a subset of 144 participants from the PREMIER trial, a completed behavioral intervention (Maryland, 1998-2004). SSB intake was assessed using 2 24-h dietary recall interviews. Blinded serum samples were assayed for δ(13)C by natural abundance stable isotope mass spectroscopy. Multiple linear regression models with generalized estimating equations and robust variance estimation were used. At baseline, mean SSB intake was 13.8 ± 14.2 fl oz/d, and mean δ(13)C serum value was -19.3 ± 0.6 units per mil (designated ‰). A reduction of 12 oz (355 mL)/d SSB (equivalent to 1 can of soda per day) was associated with 0.17‰ (95% CI: 0.08‰, 0.25‰ P < 0.0001) reduction in serum δ(13)C values over 18 mo (equivalent to a 1% reduction in δ(13)C from baseline). After adjusting for potential confounders, a reduction of 12 oz/d SSB (equivalent to 1 can of soda per day), over an 18-mo period, was associated with 0.12‰ (95% CI: 0.01‰, 0.22‰ P = 0.025) reduction in serum δ(13)C. These findings suggest that serum δ(13)C can be used as a measure of dietary changes in SSB intake.

© 2014 American Society for Nutrition.

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