The effect of carbohydrate (CHO) consumption on mood is at the center of a long-standing debate, with researchers reporting both mood improvements and decrements following CHO ingestion. As global consumption of sugar-sweetened products has sharply increased in recent years, examining the validity of claims of an association between CHOs and mood is of high importance. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between acute CHO ingestion and mood. We examined the time-course of CHO-mood interactions and considered the role of moderator variables potentially affecting the CHO-mood relationship. Analysis of 176 effect sizes (31 studies, 1259 participants) revealed no positive effect of CHOs on any aspect of mood at any time-point following their consumption. However, CHO administration was associated with higher levels of fatigue and less alertness compared with placebo within the first hour post-ingestion. These findings challenge the idea that CHOs can improve mood, and might be used to increase the public’s awareness of the myth of the ‘sugar rush’, inform health policies to decrease sugar consumption, and promote healthier alternatives.
About Prof. Sandra Sünram-Lea
My research background is in biological psychology and neuroscience, and I am interested in biological factors and mechanisms which affect human cognition and behaviour across the lifespan. Much of my research has focused on the effects of glucose administration and glucose regulatory mechanisms on human cognition.