Can a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages change consumer behavior?
Researchers conclude that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is an effective strategy to reduce consumption, but conclusive evidence of long-term health benefits remains elusive.
In some cases, taxation has proved to be a powerful incentive to change consumer behavior. For example, alcohol and tobacco excise taxes have not only generated revenue to expand educational programs but have also helped to reduce risky behaviors. Similarly, some policymakers believe this strategy might also help motivate consumers to make more healthful food choices. Although limiting calories from added sugars is highly recommended, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) remains high, particularly among adolescents and young adults. While there are many contributing factors associated with the obesity epidemic, consumption of SSBs certainly plays a role. For this reason, the World Health Organization has encouraged countries to impose a tax on SSBs. This strategy has been implemented in more than 20 other countries. Although the United States has not adopted a nationwide taxation policy on SSBs, some cities have enacted regional taxes. While obesity rates have decreased in some countries after adopting such measures, there is a lack of scientific evidence related to the impact of taxation on consumer behavior and SSB consumption. This systematic review by Redondo and colleagues provides a diverse systematic review of studies that analyzed the impact of fiscal regulatory measures on SSBs.

References: Redondo M, Hernández-Aguado I, Lumbreras B. The impact of the tax on sweetened beverages: a systematic review. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):548-63. Editorial by Lean MEJ, Garcia AL, Gill T. Sugar taxation: a good start but not the place to finish. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):435-36.
For more information: To contact the corresponding author, Blanca Lumbreras, please send an e-mail to To contact the corresponding author for the editorial, Michael EJ Lean, please send an e-mail to

Sucralose may negatively impact glucose metabolism
Researchers conclude that sucralose has a negative impact on insulin action, even in healthy adults.
Experts agree that excess consumption of calories, including those in sugar-laden foods and beverages has contributed to the obesity epidemic. Often promoted as a satisfying alternative to sugar, the use of low-calorie sweeteners has increased markedly in the United States. Marketing claims suggest that low-calorie sweeteners are an effective strategy for weight management when part of an energy-balanced diet. Until recently, it has been presumed that low-calorie sweeteners are in general “physiologically inert” and therefore can induce the sensation of sweetness without having an adverse effect on health.  However, some well-controlled studies now challenge this premise. As researchers gain a better understanding of the metabolic effects of low calorie sweeteners on health, their use as a safe alternative to sugar has been questioned. This article by Romo-Romo and colleagues evaluated the effects of sucralose (a non-calorie sugar substitute used in food and beverages) consumption on glucose metabolism.

References: Romo-Romo A, Aguilar-Salinas CA, Brito-Córdova GX, Gómez-Díaz RA, Almeda-Valdes P. Sucralose decreases insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):485-91. Editorial by Pepino MY. The not-so-sweet effects of sucralose on blood sugar control. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):431-32.
For more information: To contact the corresponding author, Paloma Almeda-Valdes, please send an e-mail to To contact the corresponding author for the editorial, M Yanina Pepino, please send an e-mail to

New analytical methods lead to the discovery of known and unknown sugar compounds in human urine
A comprehensive urinary sugar profile may provide a useful tool to better understand the relationship between dietary intake and disease risk.
In days of early medicine, examining human urine was a useful diagnostic tool. Both the smell and color of a person’s urine could reveal much about their health. Today, urine tests are still a standard part of health care. By measuring the concentration of certain compounds in urine, clinicians can detect a range of disorders such as diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of urinary problems. Although scientists now have a better understanding of the composition of human urine, much remains to be learned about this complex and dynamic biofluid. This article by Mack and colleagues analyzed urine samples of healthy adults on unrestricted diets. This information was used to develop a comprehensive profile of both known and unknown sugar compounds in human urine. Because sugar compounds are involved in a variety of diseases, a better understanding of urinary sugar and sugar derivatives may be useful in diagnosing certain diseases during early stages of development. 

References: Mack CI, Weinert CH, Egert B, Ferrario PG, Bub A, Hoffmann I, Watzl B, Daniel H, and Kulling SE. The complex human urinary sugar profile: determinants revealed in the cross-sectional KarMeN study. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):502-16. Editorial by Prentice RL. Intake biomarkers and the chronic disease nutritional epidemiology research agenda. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):433-34.
For more information: To contact the corresponding author, Sabine Kulling, please send an e-mail to To contact the corresponding author for the editorial, Ross L. Prentice, please send an e-mail to

Eating behavior traits may reflect how genes influence obesity risk
Genetic susceptibility to obesity is partly mediated through eating behavior traits that favor overeating.
Excessive weight gain is largely attributed to an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. However, salient questions remain regarding factors associated with the drive to overeat. Although genome-wide meta-analyses have identified many common genetic variants associated with body mass index, genetics alone cannot fully explain the global epidemic of obesity. Certainly, an environment that provides an abundance of plentiful and affordable energy dense foods contributes to the obesity equation as well. Nonetheless, the fact that siblings exposed to similar food environments can have discordant weight status makes it abundantly clear that there is much to learn about how genetics and environment both accentuate obesity risk. It is likely that genes exert their influence on eating behaviors through complex hormonal and neurological pathways, although these mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. This cross-sectional study by Jacob and colleagues investigated whether genetic susceptibility to obesity is mediated by eating behavior traits.

References: Jacob R, Drapeau V, Tremblay A, Provencher V, Bouchard C, and Pérusse L. The role of eating behavior traits in mediating genetic susceptibility to obesity. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):445-52. Editorial by Llewellyn CH. Genetic susceptibility to the “obesogenic” environment: the role of eating behavior in obesity and an appetite for change. Amer J Clin Nutr 2018;108(3):429-30.
For more information: To contact the corresponding author, Louis Pérusse, please send an e-mail to To contact the corresponding author for the editorial, Clare H Llewellyn, please send an e-mail to

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