Sugary drinks but NOT sugary food, linked to weight gain in mice

New research has found that consumption of sugary drinks, but not sugary food leads to weight gain in mice.

The study published in Molecular Metabolism, found that when mice were given a sugary drink it led to weight gain, however, mice who ate the same amount of sugar in a solid form did not gain weight.

Professor John Speakman, who leads groups at the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, conducted the study to determine whether the way sugar was consumed would affect the likelihood of weight gain.

The study compared mice with diets containing 73% of calories from sugar in either a solid (rodent pellet) or liquid form (drinking water) for 8 weeks. Body weight, body composition, energy intake and expenditure were monitored, as well as tests of how well the animals responded to glucose and insulin, a means of measuring susceptibility to diabetes. 

Results showed that consumption of sugary water, but not equivalent levels of solid sugar, led to body fat gain, as well as impaired glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, markers of increased diabetes risk.

Liquid sugar intake was associated with greater total intake of calories and greater body fat gain. The same level of sugar in a solid diet did not cause the mice to consume extra calories and so didn’t cause elevated body weight and fatness.

Professor Speakman explained: “Obesity, diabetes and other metabolic related disorders remain on the rise globally and it is widely agreed that the main cause of obesity is an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. 

“However, we need to better understand factors that may affect this metabolic dysregulation.  

“The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been widely implicated as a contributing factor in obesity and we investigated whether the mode of ingestion (solid or liquid) had different impacts on body weight regulation in mice.

“There has been a lot of concern recently over the intake of sugary drinks, and if humans respond in the same way as mice do, then these concerns may be entirely justified.”