A study from the University of Southern California found that daily consumption of beverages, sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose, during adolescence affects ability to learn and remember information.
Researchers conducted experiments on adult and adolescent rats, who were fed sugar-sweetened beverages daily. These beverages contained sugar concentrations similar to that found in soft drinks.
The researchers found that adult rats who had consumed sugar-sweetened beverages for one month performed normally in tests of cognitive function. However, those who drank these drinks during adolescence performance poorly in tests of learning and memory capability.
"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," Researcher Dr. Scott Kanoski said in a press release.
Researchers said that besides causing memory impairment, adolescent sugar-sweetened beverage consumption also resulted in inflammation in the hippocampus area of the brain that is related to learning and memory functions.
The research is to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.