It is not new but repeatedly proved by a study that the so-called energy drinks or sweet-ridden popular drinks like Pepsi or Coke are more harmful to health, especially memory problems in kids and adolescents, besides causing bone damage, tooth decay and obesity.
The study conducted by the University of California in United States adds to host of similar studies in the past to reinforce the popular outcome that sugary foods are categorically inimical to health and now for the brain too. The study was published in the journal Hippocampus dated sept. 23.
The experiment conducted on adolescent rats proved that sugary drinks affected their brain, mental activity and spatial memory ability. Scott Kanoski, author of the study, said: “The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence.” It also leads to brain inflammation, and triggers pre-diabetic phase, said the study. The same was not seen in adult rats which were not fed the sugary drinks or sugary food.
Adolescent rats that freely consumed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in concentrations comparable to popular sugar-sweetened beverages experienced memory problems and brain inflammation, and became pre-diabetic during the experiment period. However, neither adult rats nor the ones who did not consume sugar, faced the same issues.
Kanoski and the team from USC included Ted Hsu, Vaibhav Konanur, Lilly Taing, Ryan Usui, Brandon Kayser, and Michael Goran and the team tested a total of 76 rats, said the research paper. About 35% to 40% of the rats’ caloric intake was from sugar or HFCS. For comparison, added sugars make up about 17% of the total caloric intake of American teens on average, said the CDC study, which was funded by USC institutional support.
The rats were then tested in mazes that probe their spatial memory ability. Adolescent rats that had consumed the sugary beverages, particularly HFCS, performed worse on the test than any other group – which may be the result of the neuroinflammation detected in the hippocampus, Kanoski said.
The hippocampus is a part of the temporal lobe located deep within the brain that controls memory formation and its damage results in people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia-related diseases. “Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability.” Kanoski said.
Next, Kanoski and his team plan to see how sugar and HFCS affect the brain. “Adolescent rats that had consumed the sugary beverages, particularly HFCS, performed worse on the test than any other group – which may be the result of the neuro-inflammation detected in the hippocampus,” Kanoski pointed out.
Dr Scott Kanoski further explains, “It is no secret that refined carbohydrates, particularly when consumed in soft drinks and other beverages, can lead to metabolic disturbances. However, our findings reveal that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks is also interfering with our brain’s ability to function normally and remember critical information about our environment, at least when consumed in excess before adulthood.”
In all, the study reiterated the fact that consumption of beverages with sugar may affect the child’s ability to learn and alter their aptitude in terms of remembering information. Among adolescents, it can lead to memory problems and finally, it can lead to brain inflammation.