The effect of a 14-day sugar reduction intervention on individuals with a ‘sweet tooth’ on intake, desire, and preference for sweet foods : a thesis presented to Massey University in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Masters of Science (MSc) in Nutrition and Dietetics

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Background: People who identify as having a sweet tooth, may find it difficult to control their sugar intake. Gymnema sylvestre is a plant that contains a chemical compound called gymnemic acid which can reversibly suppress sweet taste responses. Objectives: The study aimed to investigate whether supplementing Gymnema sylvestre (GS) can reduce sugar cravings, sweet food desire and consumption among adults that identify as high sweet food consumers (sweet tooths). Method: On day zero, 32 healthy participants who self-classified as having a sweet tooth underwent baseline sensory testing for sweet taste perception using the placebo mint (PLAC). Participants then went through the randomisation process into the two groups. On day 15, participants underwent further sensory testing (with GS mint) before embarking on 14 days' supplementation using the GS mints following either a systematic (3 times/day at specified times; SYS) or ad libitum (up to 6 mints/day at times of their choosing; AD-LIB) regimen. On day 30, participants swapped over to the other trial (using the other regimen). On day 45, participants completed final questionnaires and anthropometric measurements. At each visit, participants were required to complete questionnaires (food frequency questionnaire, beverage questionnaire and cravings questionnaire), sensory testing and measurement of anthropometry. At all visits participants completed questionnaires, anthropometric measures, and sensory testing. Sensory testing was not required for day 45. Results: AD-LIB reduced daily sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) intake by 42% relative to PLAC (p=0.015). AD-LIB reduced overall sugar cravings by 28% relative to PLAC (p=0.045) AD-LIB and SYS reduced pleasantness ratings (p=0.005). Conclusion: Gymnema sylvestre consumption using an ad libitum regimen reduced sugar cravings and changed sweet food desire and consumption.
Sugar reduction, sensory evaluation, cravings questionnaire