Long-Term Overconsumption of Sugar Starting at Adolescence Produces Persistent Hyperactivity and Neurocognitive Deficits in Adulthood

Front Neurosci. 2021 Jun 7:15:670430. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.670430. eCollection 2021.


Sugar has become embedded in modern food and beverages. This has led to overconsumption of sugar in children, adolescents, and adults, with more than 60 countries consuming more than four times (>100 g/person/day) the WHO recommendations (25 g/person/day). Recent evidence suggests that obesity and impulsivity from poor dietary habits leads to further overconsumption of processed food and beverages. The long-term effects on cognitive processes and hyperactivity from sugar overconsumption, beginning at adolescence are not known. Using a well-validated mouse model of sugar consumption, we found that long-term sugar consumption, at a level that significantly augments weight gain, elicits an abnormal hyperlocomotor response to novelty and alters both episodic and spatial memory. Our results are similar to those reported in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. The deficits in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory were accompanied by altered hippocampal neurogenesis, with an overall decrease in the proliferation and differentiation of newborn neurons within the dentate gyrus. This suggests that long-term overconsumption of sugar, as that which occurs in the Western Diet might contribute to an increased risk of developing persistent hyperactivity and neurocognitive deficits in adulthood.

Keywords: adulthood; hyperactivity; neurocognitive deficits; neurogenesis; sucrose.