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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2009 Jun;234(6):651-61. doi: 10.3181/0812-RM-368. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

The type of caloric sweetener added to water influences weight gain, fat mass, and reproduction in growing Sprague-Dawley female rats.

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Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA.


Caloric sweetened beverages have been suggested to be a major dietary contributor to weight gain, particularly among adolescents. Dietary recommendations are for moderating intakes of added sugars; however, the question remains whether certain types of sugars should be limited. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of drinking different caloric sweetened beverages on the development of adiposity, metabolic, and endocrine disorders. Young (age 28 days) female Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 8-9 rats/group) were randomly assigned to drink either deionized distilled water (ddH2O) or ddH2O sweetened with 13% (w/v) glucose, sucrose, fructose or high fructose corn syrup 55 (HFCS-55) for 8 weeks. Rats drinking caloric sweetened solutions failed to completely compensate for liquid calories ingested by reducing their consumption of solid food. This resulted in greater total energy intake compared to the ddH2O control; however, there was no significant difference in total energy intake between rats drinking sucrose, fructose or HFCS-55. Of the different caloric sweeteners, only rats drinking HFCS-55 had greater (P < 0.05) final body weights and fat mass compared to the rats drinking ddH2O or glucose solution. This may have occurred because drinking HFCS-55 solution promoted a faster body weight gain. Adiposity induced by caloric sweetened water was not accompanied by metabolic disorders indicated by the absence of dyslipidemia and no differences in fasting serum glucose, insulin or C-peptide among the treatment groups. However, rats drinking HFCS-55 showed lengthened estrous cycles due to prolonged estrus. Based on this study, the type of caloric sweetener added to beverages should be considered when making dietary recommendation for reducing excess body weight and related health risk.

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