Evaluation of a novel isotope biomarker for dietary consumption of sweets

Edwina H. Yeung, Christopher D. Saudek, A. Hope Jahren, Wen Hong Linda Kao, Melissa Islas, Rebecca Kraft, Josef Coresh, Cheryl A.M. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Carbon isotopic signatures ("δ13C") might reflect consumption of corn- and cane-based sweeteners. The authors hypothesized that the δ13C value of human serum is higher for individuals with high versus low intakes of corn- and cane-based sweeteners (measured as sweetened beverage intake). They conducted a cross-sectional study within the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Magnetic Resonance Imaging study (Maryland, 2005-2006). Diet was assessed by food frequency questionnaire, and blinded serum samples were assayed by natural abundance stable isotope mass spectroscopy. Studied were 186 participants (53% male; mean age, 71 years; mean body mass index, 30 kg/m2). Serum δ13C values for individuals with high sweetened beverage intakes were significantly higher than for those with low intakes (-19.15‰ vs. -19.47‰, P < 0.001). Serum δ13C value increased 0.20‰ for every serving/day of sweetened beverages (P < 0.01). The association between sweetened beverages and serum δ13C value remained significant after adjustment for confounding by corn-based product intake (P < 0.001). Serum δ13C values were also associated with waist circumference, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio. This study provides the first known evidence that the δ13C value of human serum differs between persons consuming low and high amounts of sweets. Within the proper framework, serum δ13C value could be developed into an objective biomarker promoting more reliable assessment of dietary sweets intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1052
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010


  • biological markers
  • body mass index
  • diet
  • isotope labeling
  • sweetening agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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