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, Sünram-Lea SI, Maylor EA (2019) Neurosci Biobehav Rev.  2019 Apr.  pii: S0149-7634(18)30917-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.016. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


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-analysisto 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.


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