Quick: How many ounces of soda have you consumed in the past week? Not sure? Or not willing to admit it?
It’s a problem obesity researchers face when trying to tease out connections between soda and sugary drinks and obesity.
New research published in the Journal of Nutrition aims to provide more exact data: in strands of hair.
Using a technique that’s helped researchers determine the diets of ancient peoples called carbon isotope analysis, scientists can track how much sugar has been consumed over a longer period than a urine test would show.
“We’re isolating the isotope ratio in a specific molecule,” researcher Diane O’Brien of the University of Alaska told NPR.
When people drink soda, a type of carbon called C-13 gets trapped in alanine, an amino acid. So the more C-13 present, the more likely it is you’ve been gulping corn syrup and cane sugar.
“This should be a major step toward resolving the controversy over the role of
caloric sweetener intake in the development of obesity,” Dale Schoeller of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wrote in a commentary.
Others not associated with the study deemed it hopeful, but preliminary and expensive, NPR reported.