January 31, 2010

Consuming Sugar Helps Decision Making

A recent study published in Psychological Science says drinking something with sugar or any artificial sweetener could help with making decisions.

A group of 65 students were asked to answer a series of questions in which they had to decide whether they wanted to get a smaller sum of money "tomorrow" or a larger sum later in the future.

Half of the questions were answered on an empty stomach while the other half were answered after the students had taken in a sweetened beverage.

Blood glucose levels were evaluated at the beginning of the experiment and after the volunteers drank the soda.

"Within 10 minutes of drinking a sugary soda, participants' interest in a larger, future reward was higher," says Xiao-Tian Wang of the University of South Dakota.

"It's like when you eat: if your blood sugar's high, you can wait longer to eat."

Wang conducted the study with fellow psychological scientist Robert Dvorak.

"We did the study to see if the blood glucose level not only regulates eating behavior but also decision-making. In other words, can you wait longer to get a bigger reward when your blood glucose levels are higher?

The scientists came to the conclusion that yes, you can.

"Giving someone a diet drink tells the body that there's an 'energy crisis' because you're giving it something that tastes good but it has no calories. Your body realizes that and tries to grab everything available right now. So diet soft drinks lead to increased impulsivity," he said.


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