An increased intake of carbohydrates, including sugar, can have a positive effect on weight control, according to a study sponsored by the European Commission and EU sugar industries.

The Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre (CEFS) presented the results of the CARMEN (Carbohydrate Management in European National Diets) study on the role of carbohydrates in weight control to the European Parliament on 10 December in a meeting hosted by Maria del Pilar Ayuso (MEP).

The recent European Commission Status Report on EU actions in the field of nutrition pointed out that the number of overweight and obese people has increased considerably in recent years. This trend has aroused both short- and long-term health concerns. The results of the CARMEN study, which was conducted in five major European research centres in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, suggest that consumption by overweight human volunteers of extra carbohydrate, including sugar and in place of fat, can be beneficial in controlling weight gain in normal living situations and without involving special diets.

The University of Maastricht’s Professor Wim Saris, who coordinated the CARMEN research project, pointed out during the meeting that although the weight loss outcome of the CARMEN study and similar studies may seem modest, if applied to the population in general a weight loss of 2 to 3.5 kgs would actually halve the percentage of obese people. In the USA, for instance, such a weight loss would cause the percentage of people who are obese to fall from 20% to 10%.