High-sugar diets can harm kids’ physical, mental health: Research

*Experts say that maintaining healthy sugar levels from childhood can help kids stay on the right track as they grow into adolescence and adulthood

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in a fresh study have explored how kids’ sugar intake can take a toll on their physical and mental health.

In line with the results from a trial conducted on mice, long-term consumption of high-sugar diets can increase the risk of obesity and place a heavier burden on the nervous system, agency report stated.

This can ultimately impact attention span, hyperactivity, and decision-making.

Selena Bartlett, one of the researchers, said: “Our study found long-term sugar consumption (a 12-week period with the mice which started the trial at five weeks of age) at a level that significantly boosts weight gain, elicits an abnormal and excessive stimulation of the nervous system in response to novelty.

“It also alters both episodic and spatial memory. These results are like those reported in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.”

On maintaining healthy sugar levels, the researchers examined mice to see if long-term sugar consumption impacted health and wellness.

The study began when the mice were five weeks old; one group consumed an unlimited amount of sugar, and the other group was on a sugar-restricted diet.

The researchers also conducted behavioural and memory assessments throughout the study to see if these diets affected mental health.

Report noted the research team found that the mice that consumed large quantities of sugar gained significantly more weight than the mice on the more restricted diet plan.

They found that weight gain began roughly four weeks into the trial, though this may be different when thinking about human children.

The experts also learned that sugar was associated with many of the symptoms that are indicative of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

They discovered that the mice with high-sugar diets had a harder time with impulse control when presented with food and were more likely to struggle with staying still.

These findings are important because they highlight how kids can be affected by their diets from a young age.

The researchers stated that maintaining healthy sugar levels from childhood can help kids stay on the right track as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.

Bartlett stated: “It is increasingly considered that unrestricted consumption of high-sugar food and beverages within the Western Diet might be linked to the obesity epidemic.

“A strong association between attention-deficits/hyperactivity disorders and being overweight and obese have also been revealed.”

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