Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2018 Jun 1;23(12):2255-2266. doi: 10.2741/4704.


Sugar is highly palatable and rewarding, both in its taste and nutritive input. Excessive sugar consumption, however, may trigger neuroadaptations in the reward system that decouple eating behavior from caloric needs and leads to compulsive overeating. Excessive sugar intake is in turn associated with adverse health conditions, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory diseases. This review aims to use recent evidence to connect sugar's impact on the body, brain, and behavior to elucidate how and why sugar consumption has been implicated in addictive behaviors and poor health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Reward*
  • Sugars / administration & dosage*
  • Sugars / adverse effects
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Sugars
  • Sweetening Agents