Carbohydrate staple foods - facing the challenge to improve their quality for a better metabolic health

Impact of Diet, Food Components and Food Processing on Body Weight Regulation and Overweight Related Metabolic Diseases (METADIS 2019)
Carbohydrate staple foods - facing the challenge to improve their quality for a better metabolic health
Professor Jutta Dierkes
Mohn Nutrition Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen


Partner Organization Partner Country
University of PaderbornGermany
University of LeipzigGermany
University of ChalmersSweden
Nofima ASNorway

1. Overall project description

1.1 Summary

Carbohydrates are the main energy source in most European diets. Their metabolic effects depend on several aspects ranging from chemical structure to food matrix and food processing which are best captured by the combined consideration of dietary fiber, whole grain, glycemic index or load, and dietary sugar. In Northern and Central European diets, bread is a major carbohydrate source, however, beneficial metabolic effects of bread may be confined to bread rich in fiber, whole grain and/or with a low glycemic index (GI) only.

The consortium consisting of 5 partners from Germany, Sweden and Norway will investigate the glycemic effects of bread, and the effects of whole grain consumption on body weight and diabetes risk in adults and in children, in order to achieve the main objectives of the consortium. These are:  

  1. the generation of novel evidence on the relevance of bread intake for glycemic control and weight management among vulnerable populations

  2. to explore and clarify potential mechanisms and relations of bread intake with glycemic control and weight management

  3. to contribute to a healthy environment by exemplified advances in the infrastructure from food production to consumers

  4. to establish sustainable scientific networks

These objectives will be reached by

a randomized multicenter study on the glycemic effects of bread with added beta-glucan. The bread will be specifically produced for this study.

analysis of biomarkers of whole grain consumption in cohorts of adults (HUSK Norway) and children (Life Child, Leipzig)

analysis of whole grain intake (dietary intake data and biomarker data) and its association with body weight and diabetes in adults and children

Meta-analysis on the glycemic effects of breads with and without functional ingredient

collaboration among food producers, food scientists, nutritionists, and health personal

Establishing a network of early career scientists and senior scientists in the consortium

Results are expected towards the end of the funding period. It is expected that the results will be used to refine and elaborate dietary guidelines, for example in the 'Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (which are currently updated), and the D-A-CH dietary recommendations for the German speaking countries. Whole grain consumption is below the recommendations in large parts of the population. In addition, there is a great need for more specific data on the health effects of whole grain consumption. The results of the consortium and especially the clinical trial will provide the scientific basis for the development of breads with functional ingredients that fulfill EFSA health claims. On the long term, we expect to develop high fiber breads with high consumer acceptability which may increase whole grain and fiber intake.


1.2 Highlights

So far, there have only very preliminary results because the project was massively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The recruitment of the multicenter study started in August 2021 with a delay of nine months.  A preliminary study (gastric emptying study) investigating the acute effect of a b-glucan-enriched oatbread on gastric emptying rate (GER) and the subsequent postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses has been performed. The results demonstrated that that a beta-glucan-enriched oatbread compared to a wholewheat bread reduced the rate of gastric emptying in addition to reducing the postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses in healthy adults, indicating b-glucans to affect gastric emptying which subsequently affects postprandial glycemia. These results are currently prepared for publication.

The systematic review (WP 4) identified twenty-one intervention studies investigating the effect of different breads on glycaemia as an outcome. The formal meta-analysis revealed that compared to controls, intervention breads, which did however vary broadly in whole grain content and/or functional ingredients lowered values of fasting blood glucose. Fasting insulin and HOMA-IR were not significantly different between groups. Studies were heterogeneous, showing the need for more standardized testing of foods and their effect on glycaemia. These results are currently prepared for publication.

In the cohort studies (WP2 and WP3), the measurements of alkylresorcinols in biological samples have been finalized and results are now compiled and will be sent to Bergen during January 2022.

A protocol paper describing the multicenter study has been drafted during the autumn 2021 and will be submitted for publication during spring 2022.

4. Impact

4.1 List of publications

AuthorsTitleYear, Issue, PPPartners NumberDoiPdf

4.2 Presentation of the project

Target groupAuthorsMeans of communicationHyperlinkPdf
Students, researchers, general publicJutta Dierkes, Hanne Rosendahl-Riise Website of UiB
potential participantsAnette Buyken newspaper article LinkDownload
potential participants Anette Buyken WebsiteLink

4.3 List of submitted patents and other outputs

Patent licencePartners involvedYearInternational eu or national patentCommentPdf

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s
H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement n.696300

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