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Mayor Bloomberg is working aggressively to ban the sale of sugary drinks measuring more than 16 ounces in New York City. He cites increasing obesity among New Yorkers as the primary reason for the proposed ban.

Although sugar has been known to cause obesity, trigger diabetes, affect liver function and even depression, another disadvantage was highlighted in a study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) last month: excessive intake of high-fructose corn syrup, that is present in many carbonated drinks, processed foods, cereals and desserts, as well as baby food, slows down brain and memory function.

This is because the corn syrup reduces the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a chemical that our brains require to form new memories and retain old ones. Low BDNF levels are also linked to depression and dementia.
Furthermore, chronic consumption of high-fructose corn syrup is also associated with overeating because sugar dulls the brain’s mechanism that is responsible for telling the body when to stop eating.

The moral of the story is that sugar in processed foods and drinks not only results in weight gain, it also makes the mind slow and sluggish.

Before reaching for those sugary, processed foods and drinks, stop and think. Do you want temporary satisfaction for your sweet tooth or would you rather have a sharp mind forever? Remember, a bowl of fruit is a much better option.

But remember: the brain does need a certain amount of sugar to function properly. This varies according to age and gender; so try and get this daily dose from natural sugars that can be found in fruit and grains, which also have other beneficial nutrients.

– Dr Samia Babar
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 24, 2012.