Sweet ‘n slow learners

Sweet ‘n slow learners

New research suggests daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may impact learning and memory in adolescents.

Maybe your teenager really did forget what time you told her to be home. Perhaps your high schooler did actually study for the algebra test. They might be able to blame it on the soda.

A new study to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) suggests daily consumption of beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose can impair the ability to learn and remember information, particularly when those beverages are chugged during adolescence. The research was noted on sciencedaily.com.

During the study, adult and adolescent rats were given daily access to beverages with concentrations that mirror sugar levels in common sodas. After a (sweet) month, the adult rats performed normally in tests of cognitive function. The adolescent rats, however, were impaired in tests of learning and memory capability.

"It's no secret that refined carbohydrates, particularly when consumed in soft drinks and other beverages, can lead to metabolic disturbances,” Dr. Scott Kanoski from the University of Southern California, lead author of the study, said in an SSIB release. “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.”

Other recent research from New Zealand suggests sugar has a direct effect on risk factors for heart disease—and likely blood pressure—independent of weight gain.

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