Food and Behaviour Research

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Sugar Rush or Sugar Crash? A Meta-Analysis of Carbohydrate Effects on Mood

Mantantzis K, Schlaghecken F, S├╝nram-Lea SI, Maylor EA (2019) Neurosci Biobehav Rev.  101 45-67. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.016. Epub 2019 Apr 3. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here

Abstract:

The effect of carbohydrate (CHO) consumption on mood is much debated, with researchers reporting both mood improvements and decrements following CHO ingestion.

As global consumption of 
sugar-sweetened products has sharply increased in recent years, examining the validity of claims of an association between CHOs and mood is of high importance.

We conducted a systematic review and 
meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between acute CHO ingestion and mood. We examined the time-course of CHO-mood interactions and considered the role of moderator variables potentially affecting the CHO-mood relationship.

Analysis of 176 effect sizes (31 studies, 1259 participants) revealed no positive effect of CHOs on any aspect of 
mood at any time-point following their consumption. However, CHO administration was associated with higher levels of fatigue and less alertness compared with placebo within the first hour post-ingestion.

These findings challenge the idea that CHOs can improve 
mood, and might be used to increase the public's awareness that the 'sugar rush' is a myth, inform health policies to decrease sugar consumption, and promote healthier alternatives.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

Consumption of sugar and/or other carbohydrates fails to improve mood at any timepoint studied, according to this systematic review of all the available evidence from placebo-controlled trials.

Even within the first hour after consumption, the researchers found that ingestion of sugary or 'carb-rich' foods or drinks was linked with lower energy and alertness - not higher levels, as is widely assumed.

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