New study finds too much added sugar could cause dementia

A new study has found that there may be a link between consuming high levels of added sugar and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York tracked and analysed the diets of 2,226 pension-age adults for seven years. The data they collected found that those who consumed the most sugar in their drinks were at higher risk of developing dementia.

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Individuals who added more than 2½ teaspoons in their tea or coffee each were 54% per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who skipped the sugar. (Sprinkling the same amount of sugar on top of cereal had the same effect).

Those who drank more than half a can of fizzy drink a day were 47% more likely to develop dementia than those who only drank a can very occasionally (once every three months – so hardly any at all).

The findings, which were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, went on to suggest that adults who add over 30g (roughly six teaspoons) of sugar to their food or drink every day are a third more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s than those who consumer just 5.8g of sugar (a little over one teaspoon) to what they eat and drink.

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy & Research Officer at the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, has responded to the research, saying:

‘Too much sugar is linked to type 2 diabetes and previous research has identified type 2 diabetes as a risk factor for dementia. This study backs up this evidence, suggesting that excess sugar may increase our risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and all types of sugar – from fruit juice to lemonade – have the same impact.

‘By cutting down on the fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes, and eating a varied and balanced diet, we will be able to reduce our risk of developing dementia in later life.’