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Research Updates | Consumption

Carbohydrates and health: New draft SACN report

30 / 01 / 15

The Scientific Advisory Council of Nutrition reviewed the literature on carbohydrate intake in relation to health outcomes to ensure that the dietary reference values in Europe reflect the current evidence base. The classification and definition of carbohydrates was also reviewed, as these can vary between scientific studies, as well as between national and international organisations. This can lead to confusion and difficulties when assessing the evidence base and comparing intakes between countries.

Based on 48 prospective cohort studies and 164 RCTS, carbohydrate intake was not associated with the incidence of CVD endpoints, type 2 diabetes mellitus, glycaemia or colorectal cancer. However, it was acknowledged that for many outcomes, there is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions.

While the WHO suggests that physiological or functional classification (e.g. glycaemic index) allows for simpler translation into health effects, chemical classification (e.g. sugars, dietary fibre) provides a simpler base for measurement and labelling. Opinion varies on measurement of functional versus chemical definitions.

The SACN is now considering comments received during the consultation period. An update will be presented at SACN’s next meeting in February 2015.