Literatus: The mysterious non-satiety sub in drinks

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FIRST, let me make it clear that not all sugars are equal because the term “sugar” is a generic word. It simply means a class of carbohydrates that tastes sweet, has short molecular chain and soluble to water. Under this definition, sugar includes sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), maltose (malt sugar), and of course glucose (sweet sugar).

When I was a child, my mother would not allow me to have soft drink less than an hour before any meal because that would cause me to lose taste of my meal. At that time, I thought the sweet taste of soda caused the “taste loss.”

My studies in clinical biochemistry later on also told me that made sense. Because the sugar in soft drink is a carbohydrate and the rice in your meal is also carbohydrate, it made sense that a carbohydrate overload could occur. You already have soft drink sourced glucose in your blood so that when mealtime arrives, your body tells you “I am full.” You feel you need no more carbohydrate at mealtime. To a child, that means not touching his rice, at times even the meat viand when his taste buds had told him “no thanks.” To a mother, that means her child is not eating his meal and starving after mealtime, which freaks her out.


This is because carbohydrates have high satiety index, more than fats and less than protein.

I recently run into three studies—from 1990, 2009, and 2013—that looked into the effect of soda drinking before meals. The Mattes & Campbell study in 2009 noted that the “energy invested in beverage does not suppress the intake of other components of a lunch meal—rich in fat, protein, or carbohydrate—or the 24-hour food intake.” This result counters the accepted principle that more carbohydrates mean more fullness, and thus less need to eat more. In fact, it tells us that more carbohydrates have no effect on satiety.

The 1990 Rolls, Kim and Federoff study appeared consistent with the 2009 study. It noted that “preload” of cola before intake of solid food at lunch did not change the solid food intake at lunch. The 2013 Bray study sounded much the same. The energy in beverages did not produce a corresponding decrease in the intake of energy from solid food. For comparison, the same study noted that consumption of solid food, instead of a soft drink, reduced the intake of other foods.

These findings tell us things about the energy source found in soft drinks or beverages. First, the energy source does not have satiety impact.

Second, as it lacks satiety factor, the source may not be the carbohydrate we knew. Third, because of the previous two reasons, this energy source may not be naturally occurring carbohydrate at all.

That mystery is what we want to unravel next time around. So keep posted here.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.


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