With the recent health focus on sugar, poor old fruit has received unwanted attention for the simple reason that it is high in sugar. Now a systematic review puts to bed any health concerns about fruit, finding that whole fresh fruit does not contribute to weight gain.

Fruit is a core part of dietary guidelines the world over. But with the rise in obesity rates and health problems and the greater scrutiny that sugar has received because of this, fruit has sometimes been tainted because of its ‘high sugar content’.

Whole fruit though is a very different food to refined sugar added to highly palatable energy-dense discretionary foods. Fruit is a good source of fibre, contains many important nutrients and because of its water content, is less energy dense than many high-sugar containing convenience foods.

If diets high in sugar are a driver of obesity and disease risk, is there any merit to the line that whole fruit should also be limited or even avoided simply because of its sugar content?

This question has been answered in a recent systematic review.

Involving 41 studies with a mix of both randomised-controlled trials and observational studies where fruit consumption was tracked against body weight changes, a consistent outcome was seen.

Increasing consumption of whole, fresh fruit did not increase body weight and likely had a modest impact on weight loss.

Agreeing with the effects of fruit on body weight that the review found, fruit consumption also helped to reduce the total amount of food eaten either by displacing more energy dense foods or helping control appetite.

Implications

There are lots of reasons to eat less of foods high in added in sugar, but when it comes to healthy fruit and its natural sugars, there is no need to be cutting back.

Whole, fresh fruit is unlikely to add excess kilojoules to the diet or cause weight gain, and if anything may help protect against it. That makes for a good reason to continue to enjoy fruit every day.

Last Reviewed: 08/04/2020

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.



References

For reference: Guyenet S. Impact of whole, fresh fruit consumption on energy intake and adiposity: a systematic review. Frontiers in Nutrition Epub online 8 May 2019 doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00066.

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