Wednesday, October 01, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Sugary Drinks Impair Learning and Memory in Adolescents

By Vishakha Sonawane | Jul 30, 2014 03:04 AM EDT

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Sweetened drinks have serious effects on the brains of adolescents, a new research shows. The study explains that sugary beverages damage learning and memory. (Photo : Flickr)

Sweetened drinks have serious effects on the brains of adolescents, a new research shows. The study explains that sugary beverages damage learning and memory.

The research was conducted on adult and adolescent rats. They were given daily doses of sweetened beverages with similar concentrations of sugar found in common soft drinks.

The results showed the adult rats that consumed the sugary drinks for one month scored normally in cognitive function tests. But, the team noticed that adolescent rats experienced major impairment in learning and memory tests after a month of drinking sweetened beverages.

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"It's 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," lead author Dr. Scott Kanoski from the University of Southern California said in apress release.

According to the researchers, sugary drinks are also responsible for inflammation in the hippocampus, an area in the brain that controls several learning and memory functions. "The hippocampus is such a critical brain region for memory function," said Kanoski.

"In many ways this region is a canary in the coal mine, as it is particularly sensitive to insult by various environmental factors, including eating foods that are high in saturated fat and processed sugar," he added.

There are various studies that show the negative impact of sugary drinks on health. One such study about energy and sports drinks suggests that it leads to unhealthy behaviors in teens. Drinking these beverages mostly resulted in smoking, playing video games for hours and spending hours watching television, the research showed.

The findings of the current study were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior in Seattle.

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