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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1991;30(1):23-48.

Sucrose and delinquent behavior: coincidence or consequence?

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University of Hawaii/Manoa, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Honolulu, HI 96822.


Over the past decade, a number of theories have appeared that are attempts to relate consumption of simple sugars to violent or delinquent behavior. Such claims have been based mainly on anecdotal reports, misinterpretations of scientific literature, or flawed interpretation of questionable data. Thus, these claims remain unsubstantiated. There are data that suggest that a very few individual hyperactive children may respond adversely to a sucrose challenge, but most carefully designed and controlled studies with children offer no convincing evidence that sucrose ingestion exacerbates hyperkinetic behavior. While provocative evidence is beginning to emerge from studies of incarcerated juvenile delinquents, as well as from studies of adult criminals habitually violent under the influence of alcohol, that anomalies in carbohydrate metabolism may in some way be related to expression of antisocial behavior, there is no evidence to suggest that consuming sucrose causes violent behavior. On the contrary, ingestion of foods that contain simple carbohydrates may elicit beneficial responses, at least in behavioral subgroups of adolescent males.

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