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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 2 (1988), Issue 1, Pages 41-44

Dietary Sugar and Crohn's Disease

K.W. Heaton

Copyright © 1988 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Epidemiologically, Crohn's is a disease of modern Western civilization. The diet of the Western world is highly processed. Many surveys have shown that patients with Crohn's disease habitually eat more than the average amount of some processed foods, namely those rich in added sugars. Sugar rich meals lead to increased intestinal permeability which is a feature of Crohn's disease patients and of their relatives. Replacement of added sugars and fibre depicted cereals by whole or unrefined foods is well tolerated by most patients with Crohn's disease and it may reduce their need for surgery and hospital treatment. Until the pathogenesis of the disease is clarified the role of dietary factors remains debatable but the evidence incriminating a sugar rich highly processed diet in the etiology of Crohn's disease, albeit indirect, is enough to justify further research in this area.