In DepthNutrition

Have a sweet tooth? New blood test could tell

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Science  01 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6234, pp. 488
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6234.488

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Summary

Monitoring—and modifying—diet isn't easy, as people struggling with obesity or diabetes are well aware. Keeping track of the added sugars that lurk in foods from soft drinks to cereals is especially hard. Researchers have now come up with a blood test that could help both average people trying to stay on top of their diets and nutritionists—and they've shown that it is as good at monitoring added sugars as the complex diet reporting usually used in medicine and research. The test, based on the ratio of common carbon isotopes in blood serum, has shown that just one sugar-sweetened beverage is enough to produce a detectable increase in carbon-13 in the blood. Researchers hope the test will eventually be a part of standard clinical blood panels.

  • * Viviane Callier is a freelance science writer in Washington, D.C.