A new study links excessive sugar intake to several manic disorders.
By now, it is largely accepted that excessive sugar consumption is one of the most common and insidious causes of weight gain. According to a review by the Union of Concerned Scientists, sugar consumption increased by 25 percent between 1970 and 2000, almost exactly parallel to the increase in high-fructose corn syrup and obesity. Excessive sugar consumption has also been linked to a variety of health conditions, from cancer risk to depression.
A new study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior points to some troubling side effects associated with excessive consumption of sugary foods. The University of Colorado study suggests that sugar may play a key role in several manic behaviors, including aggressive behavior, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Professor Richard Johnson, author of the study, says the body’s response to sugar may play a role in stimulating “risk-taking, impulsivity, novelty-seeking, rapid decision-making and aggressiveness to help preserve food as a survival response.” “Excessive activation of this process due to excessive sugar intake can cause impulsive behaviors that can range from ADHD to bipolar disorder or even aggression,” he notes.
Researchers argue that the urge to consume more sugar is embedded in our brains as an evolutionary pathway to ensure our survival. But with all the available sugar options at our fingertips, this “pathway to survival” is now hyperactive. This inherent response can contribute to the aforementioned disorders as well as manic depression.