From cold drinks to cold turkey
CHILDREN who are cutting down on soft drinks suffer the same withdrawal symptoms as drug addicts, a study has revealed.
Teenagers who went “cold turkey”, giving up sugar-sweetened beverages altogether, suffered anxiety, lethargy, headaches and cravings, experts found.
So-called sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) have been blamed for the worldwide epidemic of children who are overweight.
The drinks make up 40% of added sugar in a teenager’s diet, says the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
In the American study, led by the University of California’s Dr Jennifer Falbe, researchers found that youngsters who swopped fizzy drinks for milk or water suffered “withdrawal symptoms”.
“Adolescents reported increased SSB cravings and headaches and decreased motivation, contentment, ability to concentrate, and overall well-being,” they said.
“High sugar intake activates similar neural circuitry and reward systems as substances of abuse. Adolescence is a susceptible period for addiction, when still developing brains are highly sensitive to substances and when risk-taking is more likely.”
The 25 mainly female 13- to 18-year-olds normally drank up to three cans of soft drinks a day, and were overweight or obese.
They were asked to switch drinks. Within 24 hours the youngsters began suffering headaches, listlessness and poor concentration.
The study in the journal Appetite shows that sugar excited the brain in the same way as drugs and alcohol. The research revealed “parallels between added sugars and substances of abuse in bingeing, craving, tolerance, and withdrawal”.