Scientists from the University of Colorado found that conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and even aggressive behaviors may be linked to sugar intake.
They found that fructose, a component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and uric acid (a fructose metabolite), play a big role in increasing the risk for these mental disorders.
The research is published in Evolution and Human Behavior and was conducted by Richard Johnson et al.
In the study, researchers reviewed research that shows a foraging response stimulates risk-taking, impulsivity, novelty seeking, rapid decision making, and aggressiveness to aid the securing of food as a survival response.
Over-activation of this process from excess sugar intake may cause impulsive behavior that could range from ADHD to bipolar disorder or even aggression.
While the fructose pathway was meant to aid survival, fructose intake has skyrocketed during the last century and may be in overdrive due to the high amounts of sugar that are in the current Western diet.
The study looked at how excessive intake of fructose present in refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup may have a contributory role in the pathogenesis of behavioral disorders that are associated with obesity and the Western diet.
The team suggests further studies to investigate the role of sugar and uric acid, especially with new inhibitors of fructose metabolism on the horizon.
The identification of fructose as a risk factor does not negate the importance of genetic, familial, physical, emotional, and environmental factors that shape mental health.