Brain responds differently to sugar

11 December 2014

A new study has found that the brain responds differently to two kinds of sugar. The report, announced at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting, suggests that fructose heightens the response of brain reward circuits to food cues, promoting feeding behaviour.

This insight could help to better manage the high number of people who are now considered to be obese or overweight. Significant changes in lifestyle and diet are thought to be the main factors to the sudden rise in the number of people carrying too much weight.

The increase of fructose, which is a simple sugar found in fruit, intake is a particular concern, especially as it is added as a "refined sugar" in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose ingestion produces smaller increases in circulating satiety hormones than glucose, which is produced in the digestion of carbohydrates, ingestion. 

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Kathleen Page at the Keck School of Medicine and a team from the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California examined brain responses.

They analysed the reaction when volunteers viewed images of food after they drank a beverage containing either glucose or fructose. They found that the food cues produced activation in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain's "reward circuit", and increased the desire for food. 

Posted by ​Jeanette Royston​


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