Today, soft drinks account for more than 50 percent of sugar in U.S. diets. With that, the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has increased tremendously.
Recent studies have shown there could be a more physiological effect by consuming sugary drinks that one may have previously thought.
A research report in the journal “Appetite” shows two different studies in which it is hypothesized sugary drink consumption can affect a person’s overall diet and, more specifically, their taste preferences.
The main reason for the research is to determine if chronic sugar drink consumption can really affect a person’s taste preference to the point where they are wanting to eat more sugary foods.
Kevin Huggins, assistant professor in nutrition and food science, said sugar has an overall effect not just on the body, but it also affects the brain as well.
“The main sugar that we talk about in soft drinks is high-fructose corn syrup,” Huggins said. “Chronic consumption, or addiction to, that particular sugar can obviously have very detrimental effects not only physically, but psychologically as well.”
Huggins said he believes sugar addiction is, in reality, a lot like cocaine addiction.
“With a diet high in sugar, people are going to crave it more,” Huggins said. “They are going to consume more sugar to get to that level of satisfaction. I think this research report shows taste preference can be altered by consuming a lot of sugar—in this case sodas—which is definitely an environmental factor in obesity and diabetes.”
One study showed people who were overweight found the samples they were given to be 23 percent less sweet than what people of a normal weight thought.
Douglas White, professor in nutrition and food science, said research like this is a constant.
“There are a lot of studies being done like this one,” White said. “Our department did a survey involving fourth and fifth graders and the correlation between their weight and the amount of calories—more so, sugary drinks—they consumed.”
White said the results were not surprising.
“We found that children who consumed more sugary drinks were often of a greater weight,” White said. “With this information, as a parent, I would definitely try to limit soft drinks to my kids because it could turn out to be a bad influence on the brain.”
It is a safe assumption some college students are big consumers of soft drinks. While some may agree with the study, others are not as affected by it.
Philip Reiner, senior in computer engineering, said although he rarely consumes sugary drinks, he doesn’t think it affects him too much.
“I don’t drink sugary drinks often,” Reiner said. “But when I do drink them, I don’t feel as though I want to eat anymore sugar afterwards.”