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Effect of sugar on teens during the holidays

by Sooyoung Park, News Editor

Photo by: Samantha Villanueva

With Thanksgiving having gone by, and Christmas just around the corner, the holiday season gives people many things: gifts, love, and inevitably, lots of sugar. It is no secret that people love sugar, especially teenagers. From sodas to chocolates to cookies, teenagers seem to be addicted to the sweet goodness. However, sugar can have much more detrimental effects than just a few more cavities in teenagers’ lives.

Teenagers and young adults consume more sweetened drinks than any other age group on a regular basis, according to a 2011 National Center for Health Statistics data brief. This excessive sugar consumption is particularly harmful during these teenage years, as shown by a study by USC-Dornsife.

While experimenting with rats, scientists at the university found that those that consumed more sugar were more likely to become pre-diabetic, and experience brain inflammation and issues with memory.
In the study “USC study links sugary beverages to memory problems,” Scott Kanoski, assistant professor of biological sciences at USC-Dornsife, is quoted, “The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during the critical periods of development, like adolescence… Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability.”

The average teenager consumes around 500 calories on a daily basis. This already-large number spikes dramatically during the holiday season, when people tend to binge on all sorts of delicious treats and food and consume a lot more food than what their bodies can safely maintain.

As a result, health deteriorates, and people experience weight gain that takes many years of hard work to reverse. To avoid these negative effects, there are many tips one can follow to stay healthier.

“I drink a bunch of green tea because it fills me up. I also try to choose healthier options, such as carrots, and keep them more accessible to me,” said Asha Nataraj, junior.

Additional ways include: eating a snack before attending a party or dinner to prevent overeating, especially sugary foods; drinking plenty of fluids during the break, preferably ones without added sugar; eating foods that don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup; and trying to stick to healthy foods for at least three-quarters of your day.

This year, take care and do yourself a favor by tracking your holiday sweets consumption. It will benefit you more in the long run.