New research suggests that sugar intake may be linked to conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, or aggressive behavior. This may even have an evolutionary basis.
The University of Colorado Anschutz Hospital Campus published the research today. Evolution and Human BehaviorThe hypothesis is that fructose, which is a component of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and the uric acid (a fructose derivative), may play a role in increasing the risk of developing these behavioral disorders.
“We present evidence to show that fructose by lowering energy levels in cells triggers a food-seeking response similar to starvation,” said Richard Johnson MD, lead author and professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Johnson describes research that shows that foraging stimulates risk taking and impulsivity. This process can be overactivated by excessive sugar intake, which could lead to impulsive behavior. It could range from ADHD to bipolar disorder and even aggression.
Johnson states that while the fructose pathway was designed to aid survival, the fructose intake has risen rapidly over the past century and may be overdrive due the high levels of sugar in the Western diet.
This paper examines the role of fructose, which is found in refined sugars as well as high fructose corn syrup, in the development of behavioral disorders that are linked to obesity and Western diet.
Johnson says, “We don’t blame aggressive behaviour on sugar, but we do acknowledge that it may be one contributing factor.”
Johnson recommends that further research be done to determine the role of sugar, uric acid, and new inhibitors of fructose metabolic activity.
He adds that “the identification of fructose is not an negation of the importance of genetic and familial factors that shape mental well-being”
Materials provided by University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Original written by Julia Milzer Note: Content can be edited for style or length.