Sugar not so sweet for men­tal health

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waist­line, but also your men­tal health, claimed a study Thurs­day that was met with skep­ti­cism by other ex­perts. Re­searchers at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don (UCL) com­pared the re­ported sugar in­take of more than 8,000 peo­ple in a long-term Bri­tish study, to their mood. The study par­tic­i­pants, civil ser­vants, were mon­i­tored from 1985-1988, and filled out a ques­tion­naire ev­ery few years there­after. Re­searchers ex­am­ined data from that study for an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween sugar in­take and "com­mon men­tal dis­or­ders" (CMD) such as anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. The UCL team found "an in­creased like­li­hood" for men with a higher in­take of sweet foods and drinks to de­velop CMD af­ter five years, and a gen­eral "ad­verse ef­fect" on men­tal health for both sexes. And they con­cluded, in a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Sci­en­tific Re­ports, that "lower in­take of sugar may be associated with bet­ter psy­cho­log­i­cal health."

But di­eti­cian Catherine Collins, a spokes­woman for the Bri­tish Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion, said this rec­om­men­da­tion was "un­proven". Prob­lems with the study, she said, in­cluded that sugar con­sump­tion was self-re­ported, and that sugar in­take from al­co­hol was not counted. The re­searchers, she said, ap­peared to con­fuse nat­u­rally-oc­cur­ring sugar from food­stuffs such as milk, and "free sug­ars" added to hot drinks or in sweets. "The di­etary anal­y­sis makes it im­pos­si­ble to jus­tify the bold claims made by the re­searchers about sugar and de­pres­sion in men," Collins said via the Science Me­dia Cen­tre in Lon­don. "Re­duc­ing in­take of free sug­ars is good for your teeth, and may be good for your weight, too. But as pro­tec­tion against de­pres­sion? It's not proven." Nu­tri­tion ex­pert Tom San­ders agreed the re­sults should be in­ter­preted "with cau­tion". "From a sci­en­tific stand­point it is dif­fi­cult to see how sugar in food would differ from other sources of car­bo­hy­drate on men­tal health as both are bro­ken down to sim­ple sug­ars in the gut be­fore ab­sorp­tion," he said. — AFP

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