Effects of high and low sucrose-containing beverages on blood glucose and hypoglycemic-like symptoms

C. Rob Markus*, Peter J. Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: There is this intriguing but not yet well-explored suggestion that highly absorbable sucrose-sweetened drinks might exacerbate hunger by promoting temporal hypoglycemia-like responses already in non-diabetic healthy individuals. This might provide a possible additional explanatory mechanism for previous reported associations between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and body weight gain. The current study involves two separate and independently conducted human experiments exploring the effects of two different single-doses of sugar-sweetened beverages on temporal blood glucose nadir and possible related behavioral hypoglycemic-like symptoms in healthy participants.

METHODS: By way of two separately conducted between-subjects experiments, effects of 1) a low (29 g) sugar-containing beverage compared to a sweetened zero-energy drink and a milk drink (experiment-1) or 2) a high (80 g) sugar-sweetened beverage compared to a zero-energy and a non-sweetened colored water drink (experiment-2) were measured on changes in blood glucose, behavioral hypoglycemia, appetite and mood.

RESULTS: Experiment-1: The 29 g sucrose containing beverage caused a high (37%) glycemic increase and a smaller response (15%) to the milk drink, which both peaked 30 min after consumption, whereas the sweetened zero-energy drink had very little effect on blood glucose. Regardless of the different magnitude of peak glycemic responses, both the sugar and milk drinks rather equally caused blood glucose concentrations to return to normal and stable baseline values 90 min later. There were no (different) effects of the beverages on behavioral hypoglycemic-like symptoms, appetite or mood. Experiment-2: the 80 g sucrose containing beverage caused a large (72%) glycemic peak response at +30 min after consumption, whereas neither the sweetened zero-energy nor the non-sweetened colored water drink had any meaningful effect on blood glucose. After intake of the 80 g sugar beverage, blood glucose concentrations remained elevated (13%) at +120 min and returned to lower baseline values in the direction of hypoglycemia levels at +165 min. There were no (differential) effects of the beverages on behavioral hypoglycemic symptoms, appetite or mood.

CONCLUSIONS: The current findings indicate that instead of a low (29 g) sugar-containing beverage, a high (80 g) sugar-containing beverage caused blood glucose concentrations to fall below baseline values almost reaching hypoglycemia levels at the end of measurements. There were no hypoglycemic-like behavioral symptoms including changes in appetite or mood: at least not at end of measurements +165 min after consumption. Since this might include that in particular consumption of high-glycemic index drinks could still promote symptoms in the longer run, further research is needed to explore possible hypoglycemic-like effects of high dosages of sugar-sweetened beverages across more extended/delayed time measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112916
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Appetite
  • Blood glucose
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Sugar


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of high and low sucrose-containing beverages on blood glucose and hypoglycemic-like symptoms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this