University of Athens: Honey has an important role in preventing and combating obesity

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 By Cleopatra Zoumbourli, Molecular Biologist

According to a recent scientific study by the University of Athens, honey seems to play an important role in preventing and treating some complications of obesity!

This is because consuming 15 g of honey per day has a beneficial effect on glucoses’ and insulins’ concentrations compared to other sweeteners with the same content of glucose.

“The results of this six-month study showed that daily honey consumption may delay or prevent the development of insulin resistance, the disorder of glucoses’ tolerance and the development of type 2 diabetes in obese girls”, said Evangelia Harmanda, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Adolescent Endocrinology at the Medical School of the University of Athens and Head of the Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism of the 1st Pediatric Clinic of the Children’s Hospital “Agia Sofia”.

The study, conducted by the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism of the 1st Pediatric Clinic of the Medical School of the University of Athens and presented at the 41st Panhellenic Conference of the Hellenic Endocrinological Society, involved 30 healthy obese girls with a mean age of 11.5 years old with Body Mass Index (MBI) over the 90th place.
“The aim of this study, as explained by Ms. Evangelia Harmandari, was to scientifically examine the effect that honey has, compared to common sugar, on glucose and insulin concentrations in obese children.”


Honey has been known since ancient times for its dietary, biological, and medicinal properties. Its caloric, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, makes it one of the most important sweeteners that seem to have a positive effect on the human body.

The results of various interventional studies in adults showed that honey has a smaller effect on the increase of glucose and insulin, while it has a significant antioxidant effect.

The chemical composition of honey varies from species to species:

  • Main ingredients: Water 17%, Glucose 31%, Fructose 38%, Maltose 7.5%, Sucrose 1.5 %, other sugars about 12%.Secondary ingredients: Acids, Enzymes, Vitamins, and other Antibiotics agents.
  • Vitamins:A, Β2, B3, Β6, Β3, C, K, Biotin, Folic acid.
  • Mineral salts: Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Chlorine, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Iodine, Aluminum, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Lithium, Nickel, Molybdenum.

The sugars of honey compared to the common commercial sugar present several differences, which are very beneficial for health:

Honeys’ fructose is absorbed into the blood with active absorption, i.e., transporters located on the surface of the cells of the intestinal tract capture the molecules of fructose and carry them inside the cells. Thus, the rate of the absorption is determined by the availability of the chemical transporters, resulting to a slower rate without causing over-secretion of insulin.

On the contrary, the absorption of common sugar after its digestion takes place through osmosis. Thus, glucose enters rapidly the bloodstream in high concentration, causing the immediate production of insulin by the pancreas.


Obesity has become one of the most important public health problems of the 21st century, and the term ‘epidemic’ is often used today to describe the dramatic increase in its incidence.

In Greece, the rate of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence exceeds 30%. Given that in our country we have about 100,000 births a year, in 18 years (from birth to adulthood) we will have 1,800,000 children and adolescents! Based on these data, at this time, 600,000 children and adolescents (30% of 1,800,000) are overweight or obese!

Obesity in childhood and adolescence leads to obesity in adulthood. Its dramatic increase is closely linked to the increase in the frequency of adult obesity.

The common complications of obesity are:

  • cardiovascular problems
  • hypertension
  • hyperlipidemia
  • endothelial disorders
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes

It is also responsible for a significantly high percentage of expenses in public health. For these reasons, obesity is considered one of the most serious threats to public health both in our country and in the rest of the world.