Evaluating a Model of Added Sugar Intake Based on Amino Acid Carbon Isotope Ratios in a Controlled Feeding Study of U.S. Adults

Jessica J. Johnson, Virág Sági-Kiss, Susana A. Palma-Duran, John Commins, Matthew Chaloux, Brian Barrett, Douglas Midthune, Victor Kipnis, Laurence S. Freedman, Natasha Tasevska, Diane M. O’Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies suggest that amino acid carbon stable isotope ratios (CIRAAs) may serve as biomarkers of added sugar (AS) intake, but this has not been tested in a demographically diverse population. We conducted a 15-day feeding study of U.S. adults, recruited across sex, age, and BMI groups. Participants consumed personalized diets that resembled habitual intake, assessed using two consecutive 7-day food records. We measured serum (n = 99) CIRAAs collected at the end of the feeding period and determined correlations with diet. We used forward selection to model AS intake using participant characteristics and 15 CIRAAs. This model was internally validated using bootstrap optimism correction. Median (25th, 75th percentile) AS intake was 65.2 g/day (44.7, 81.4) and 9.5% (7.2%, 12.4%) of energy. The CIR of alanine had the highest, although modest, correlation with AS intake (r = 0.32, p = 0.001). Serum CIRAAs were more highly correlated with animal food intakes, especially the ratio of animal to total protein. The AS model included sex, body weight and 6 CIRAAs. This model had modest explanatory power (multiple R2 = 0.38), and the optimism-corrected R2 was lower (R2 = 0.15). Further investigations in populations with wider ranges of AS intake are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4308
Issue number20
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

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© 2022 by the authors.


  • alanine
  • animal protein ratio
  • carbon stable isotope ratios
  • controlled feeding study
  • dietary biomarkers


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