Original Contribution

European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 52, Issue 7, pp 1721-1732

First online:

Low-volume exercise can prevent sucrose-induced weight gain but has limited impact on metabolic measures in rats

  • Carling Yan-Yan ChanAffiliated withHuman Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular Bioscience (G08), University of Sydney
  • , Michael KendigAffiliated withSchool of Psychology (A18), University of Sydney
  • , Robert A. BoakesAffiliated withSchool of Psychology (A18), University of Sydney Email author 
  • , Kieron RooneyAffiliated withExercise, Health and Performance, Faculty of Health Sciences (C42), Cumberland Campus, University of Sydney

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Rats given sugar-sweetened drinks can develop glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia. The aim of this study was to investigate whether such metabolic disruptions and also possible weight gain induced by chronic sucrose consumption could be attenuated by low-volume exercise.


Using a 2 × 2 factorial design, rats were given free access for 57 days to either a 10 % sucrose solution (Suc and SucEx) or water only (Con and ConEx), while exercise rats (SucEx and ConEx) received 20-min treadmill training every 3 days. Caloric intake and body weight were measured throughout this dietary intervention. Oral glucose tolerance tests were performed on days 29 and 54. Plasma insulin, triglycerides and leptin were also measured, together with post-mortem measures of retroperitoneal fat pads and liver triglycerides.


In groups given sucrose, exercise reduced calorie consumption, reduced weight gain and decreased leptin relative to non-exercised controls. Exercise was found to improve glucose tolerance and insulin action at day 29, but not day 54.


Low-volume exercise can be effective in preventing weight gain in sucrose-fed rats, probably via reduction of subcutaneous fat, but prevention of the glucose intolerance and dyslipidaemia produced by sucrose consumption may be transient.


Metabolic syndrome Sucrose Exercise Body weight Rat