Carbohydrates, appetite and feeding behavior in humans

R J Stubbs, N Mazlan, Stephen Whybrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


The view of carbohydrates in relation to obesity has changed over the past few decades from being conducive to overconsumption and weight gain to being protective. This article reviews the mechanisms by which carbohydrate is purported to protect against weight gain. Although carbohydrate is metabolized and stored in the body less efficiently than fat, when de novo lipogenesis is invoked on very high carbohydrate diets, the beneficial effect on energy balance is likely to be minimal when typical high fat Western diets are consumed. However, it has been suggested that high carbohydrate foods may influence energy balance by reducing food intake through greater satiety effects, reducing energy density and displacing fat from the diet-the fat-sugar seesaw effect. To date, there seem to be few differences between sugars and starches on satiety and energy intake, but few studies have examined this. Some reduced-fat, and, therefore, higher carbohydrate, foods are highly energy dense. High carbohydrate foods do not necessarily have a low energy density. Evidence from recent studies suggests that adding carbohydrate, and especially sugar, to the diet neither displaces fat from the diet nor protects against elevated energy intake. Although it is easier to overeat on high fat than low fat foods, simply replacing fat with carbohydrate in the diet may not be as protective against overconsumption as the energy density or fat-sugar seesaw arguments suggest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2775S-2781S
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001


  • Appetite
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Research
  • Satiation
  • Weight Gain


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