From cold drinks to cold tur­key

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFESTYLE - |

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”.

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