An isotopic method for quantifying sweeteners derived from corn and sugar cane

A. Hope Jahren, Christopher Saudek, Edwina H. Yeung, W. H.Linda Kao, Rebecca A. Kraft, Benjamin Caballero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, as well as cane sugar, has been implicated in the rise of the obesity and diabetes epidemics. To date, however, no reliable biomarker for the consumption of these sweeteners is available. Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the natural abundance stable-carbon-isotope signature of commonly consumed foods of plant origin. Design: Samples from ≈100 plant-derived food products purchased from local grocery stores were analyzed for 13C content by using stable-isotope mass spectroscopy. Results: Measurement of natural abundance ratios of 13C to 12C in ≈100 off-the-shelf foods found a distinct range of values for corn-and sugar cane-derived foods, particularly those rich in high-fructose corn syrup. Conclusion: A new technique, in which consumption of these foods may be estimated in humans by measuring the natural abundance stable-carbon-isotope profile of corn- and sugar cane-sweetened or sugar-containing foods as tracked in tissue or blood, could potentially provide an objective assessment of dietary intake and offer new opportunities for the study of diet-disease relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1380-1384
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • Biomarker
  • Chronic diseases
  • Dietary intake
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Obesity
  • Stable carbon isotope
  • Sweetener

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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