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Study Refutes Link Between Sugar and Aggression

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Eating foods laden with sugar does not promote aggression or problem behavior either in male juvenile delinquents or in boys who have had no trouble with the law, a new study has found.

Results from the study, conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, contradict the common belief that sugar promotes hyperactivity among normal children and wildness among children who are already labeled as hyperactive. Scientists to date have not been able to document conclusively these effects of sugar.

The study, published in the Aussue of Pediatrics, involved 115 incarcerated male juvenile delinquents and 39 nondelinquent boys, all between the ages of 14 and 19.

After a night fast, the boys received a breakfast of cereal, milk, and an orange drink. The boys were randomly given meals containing either sugar or aspartame, an artificial sweetener.

The subjects were then administered standardized behavioral tests. Contrary to the popular expectation, delinquents and boys who had been described by their teachers as being hyperactive and who had eaten a sugary meal performed better than did those who had eaten a meal containing the sugar substitute.

But boys with few or no behavioral problems performed worse after eating the sugar-laden meal, the study found.

The researchers acknowledged that the differing caloric and nutritional values of the two different meals could have influenced their results.

The authors of the study also noted that some scientists have found that aspartame, under certain circumstances, may produce adverse effects on behavior.--EF

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