Sugar and cardiovascular disease: A statement for healthcare professionals from the Committee on Nutrition of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart Association

Barbara V. Howard, Judith Wylie-Rosett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

117 Scopus citations


As with most other dietary constituents, long-term trial data relating sugar consumption to the development of CVD events are unavailable. Longitudinal cohort studies relating sugar consumption to CVD are equivocal because of the many potential confounders that cannot be adequately controlled in the analyses. Shorter-term studies show consistent adverse effects of sugar consumption on HDL and triglyceride levels, which could accelerate atherosclerosis. High sugar consumption may worsen diabetes control, and the combination of sugar with protein and fats promotes formation of dietary AGEs, which may be especially detrimental to those with diabetes. Although increasing the amount of sugar in an isocaloric diet does not directly lead to changes in energy expenditure or weight gain in controlled feeding studies, high-sugar foods, which are sweet and calorie dense, may increase calorie consumption and lead to weight gain. Furthermore, replacement of whole foods with high-sugar foods compromises attainment of adequate dietary vitamin and mineral intake from whole food sources. In the absence of definitive evidence, recommendations must rely on professional judgment. No data suggest that sugar intake per se is advantageous, and some data suggest it may be detrimental. The studies above, taken in total, indicate that high sugar intake should be avoided. Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories. To improve the overall nutrient density of the diet and to help reduce the intake of excess calories, individuals should be sure foods high in added sugar are not displacing foods with essential nutrients or increasing calorie intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-527
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 23 2002
Externally publishedYes



  • AHA Scientific Statements
  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Sugar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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