Mental Health

Can High Sucrose Intake of Adolescents stimulate the Development of Psychiatric Disorders?

It has always been a common practice to minimize sugar consumptions for children, teaching them that excessive amounts of sugar can damage your health. Although it may be a simple excuse for some parents to take away candy from their children, it is still a true statement. Obesity, which can also lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, is a common condition that results from high sugar intake. Recently, researchers began to analyze excessive sugar, or sucrose, intake at psychiatric levels, where the impact may be placed on the brain.

Patients with mental disorders ingest approximately twofold more sugar than healthy individuals of similar ages, and the severity of the symptoms for schizophrenic individuals increases along with sucrose consumption. There is also a higher probability of mental distress, hyperactivity, and behavioral disorders among adolescents who self-reported higher consumptions of sugar-filled soft drinks. It is yet to be proven, however, that excessive sugar intake can be a direct cause for the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders.

Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science studied this statement by hypothesizing that extreme consumption of sucrose might alter the growth of behavioral phenotypes during adolescence, with the affected phenotypes in relation to psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Using mice as models, Dr. Haruo Okado and colleagues examined glyoxalase-1 (GLO1) and disrupted-in-schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) as the susceptibility genes for psychiatric disorders.

Placing environmental factors of excessive sugar intake at the age of puberty in a heterozygous mouse successfully displayed an original mouse model with symptoms of the mental disorders stated above, such as decreased working memory, hyperactivity, and decreased sensorimotor gating function. Therefore, the behavioral phenotypes that were taken into consideration for the study—impaired sensory gating, dysfunctional working memory, hyperactivity, and increased basal and stimulus-evoked striatal dopamine release—are at risk of growth with the presence of excessive dietary intake of sucrose.

“In other words, this demonstrates a possibility that the excessive intake of simple sugar at the age of puberty could be a risk factor of psychiatric disorders,” researchers clarify. “Furthermore, by analyzing this model mouse, we [aim] to identify the new phenotypes and mechanisms of developing mental disorders.”


Categories: Mental Health