"Sugar" here means commonly consumed sugars: glucose, fructose, sucrose and HFCS.

Is eating sugar always bad? Can it be eaten in moderation and present no risk to diabetes and other issues? Or should ideally all food be completely without any sugar? Even in a healthy adult of average weight, with no health issues, an otherwise healthy diet and exercise regimen?

I'm aware that the human adult doesn't appear to require glucose consumption, since it can be synthesized within the body: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22591/

I'm also aware that the media might promote sugar as a bad thing to consume. However, this seems to be often correlated with people that have other health issues, such as obesity or lack of physical activity.

To answer this I'd like to see a survey paper which presents a summary of the available research on the topic.

I've attempted to figure this out myself, is this paper any good? Does it represent the consensus in the field (if there even is a consensus!)?


The available research appears to be weak in some areas. Consider e.g. regarding cognitive performance deterioration:

"Studies performed ranging in duration from 10 weeks to 24 weeks and employing average levels of consumption of fructose containing sugars have not found any evidence of cognitive change [123,124]."

This wouldn't say anything about changes that might happen over 10 or 20 years of added sugar.

Is there a better survey paper, or perhaps a collection of papers that are interesting?

  • You would need to define sugar, first, as almost nothing is pure glucose (most "sugar" is sucrose, fructose, or HFCS). Also highly refined carbohydrates break down into glucose rapidly (white flour etc) so do you include that as well? I would look at the ACLM references page for perspective on some of this.
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 13:55
  • There are more big studies about health effects of "sugars" as a group than about individual sugars, so I suggest this question can be about commonly used "added sugars" (glucose, fructose, sucrose and HFCS). Other refined carbohydrates, such as starch from foods with little fiber, can be mentioned in the answer.
    – Jan
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 17:23
  • I have edited your question to make it clear you are asking about all sugars. If you don't agree you can reverse the edit.
    – Jan
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 6:50
  • The OP may want to look at the potential conflicts of interest reported at the end of the second NIH article he posts.
    – Gordon
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 14:31
  • Yes, there can be a potential funding bias.
    – Jan
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


What is the medical consensus regarding the effect sugar consumption has on health?

There is still no concensus about the effects of sugar intake on health, mainly due to lack of long-term randomized clinical trials.

Is eating sugar always bad? Can it be eaten in moderation and present no risk to diabetes and other issues?

According to systematic reviews of studies, there is insufficient scientific evidence to claim that consuming sugar in moderate amounts increases the risk of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, inflammation or cancer, except of dental caries.

The review article linked in the question also does not mention that sugar would be harmful. However, as stated in the "Conflict of Interests," one of the authors and his research laboratory have received funds from several companies that produce foods high in sugar, which can be a potential funding bias.

Should ideally all food be completely without any sugar?

Not necessary.

According to some recent reviews (PubMed, 2007, 2016), sugar is not harmful as such, but mainly when it contributes to excessive body weight.

Decreasing sugar intake can help some people to:

Starch from foods with little fiber, such as white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, is quickly digested into glucose, which is quickly absorbed, so it is similar to sugars in this regard (gisymbol.com).

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