The chemical compound called glucose is often referred to as the ‘sugar brain’.
But new research shows that our bodies also use sugar as an energy source.
The findings from Australian researchers may help explain why we are so attracted to foods that contain sugar, even when they aren’t high in calories.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne’s School of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Sciences used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the brains of healthy and obese adults.
They found that the brains were more active in the obese subjects when they ate sweet foods.
They also found that when the subjects ate sugar, their brain activity increased.
“We found that eating sweet foods increased the activity of the [reward] region of the brain,” Dr Jie Cao said.
“And we think that that may be linked to reward processing and other cognitive processes in the brain.”
Dr Cao said the research could help explain the link between sugar and overeating.
“Our findings suggest that sugar intake may have a positive effect on reward processing, which could contribute to the etiology of obesity,” Dr Cao added.
“Sugar is an attractive, low-calorie source of energy and could therefore be a target for food manufacturers to develop new products to replace the sugars in their products.”
The study was published in the journal Brain Imaging.