The Impact of Free Sugar on Human Health—A Narrative Review

Kerri M. Gillespie, Eva Kemps, Melanie J. White, Selena E. Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

8 Citations (Scopus)
121 Downloads (Pure)


The importance of nutrition in human health has been understood for over a century. However, debate is ongoing regarding the role of added and free sugars in physiological and neurological health. In this narrative review, we have addressed several key issues around this debate and the major health conditions previously associated with sugar. We aim to determine the current evidence regarding the role of free sugars in human health, specifically obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cognition, and mood. We also present some predominant theories on mechanisms of action. The findings suggest a negative effect of excessive added sugar consumption on human health and wellbeing. Specific class and source of carbohydrate appears to greatly influence the impact of these macronutrients on health. Further research into individual effects of carbohydrate forms in diverse populations is needed to understand the complex relationship between sugar and health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number889
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2023


  • cognition
  • coronary heart disease
  • diabetes
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • microbiome
  • neuroinflammation
  • obesity
  • sugar
  • sugar-sweetened beverage


Dive into the research topics of 'The Impact of Free Sugar on Human Health—A Narrative Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this