ADHD, Bipolar, and Aggressive Behavior May Be Driven by High Fructose Intake

New peer-review paper looks at evolution and current Western diet to help explain manic behaviors.

New research suggests that conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and even aggressive behaviors may be linked with sugar intake, and that it may have an evolutionary basis.

The research, out today from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and published in Evolution and Human Behavior, presents a hypothesis supporting a role for fructose, a component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and uric acid (a fructose metabolite), in increasing the risk for these behavioral disorders.

“We present evidence that fructose, by lowering energy in cells, triggers a foraging response similar to what occurs in starvation,” said lead author Richard Johnson, MD, professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Johnson outlines research that shows a foraging response stimulates risk taking, impulsivity, novelty seeking, rapid decision making, and aggressiveness to aid the securing of food as a survival response. Overactivation of this process from excess sugar intake may cause impulsive behavior that could range from ADHD, to bipolar disorder or even aggression.

“While the fructose pathway was meant to aid survival, fructose intake has skyrocketed during the last century and may be in overdrive due to the high amounts of sugar that are in the current Western diet,” Johnson adds.

The paper looks at how excessive intake of fructose present in refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup may have a contributory role in the pathogenesis of behavioral disorders that are associated with obesity and Western diet.

Johnson notes, “We do not blame aggressive behavior on sugar, but rather note that it may be one contributor.”

Johnson recommends further studies to investigate the role of sugar and uric acid, especially with new inhibitors of fructose metabolism on the horizon.

“The identification of fructose as a risk factor does not negate the importance of genetic, familial, physical, emotional and environmental factors that shape mental health,” he adds.

Reference: “Fructose and uric acid as drivers of a hyperactive foraging response: A clue to behavioral disorders associated with impulsivity or mania?” by Richard J.Johnson, William L. Wilson, Sondra T. Bland and Miguel A. Lanaspa, 16 October 2020, Evolution and Human Behavior.
DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.09.006

DiabetesEvolutionMental HealthNutritionUniversity of Colorado
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  • Kiki howell

    The common denominator is corn. We are all intolerant to corn. And now with gm roundup resistant corn in our food chain it’s causing havoc. I believe fibromyalgia is purely a symptom of food intolerances. Primarily corn but dairy and wheat too. Corn rage is a recognised symptom of corn intolerance. Hfcs is causing non alcoholic fatty liver disease the obesity issue is down to corn syrup it puts on more weight than sugar gram for gram. Yeast is now made from corn not wheat. All preservatives vinegar caramel alcohol fructose sucrose artificial sweeteners corn flour corn starch tea bags anything white is bleached using corn like flour and sugar. Coffee is freeze dried using corn fizzy waters co2 is from corn. We can not get away from it. Psoriasis eczema gout arthritis fibromyalgia PoTS mcas some ms fertility problems anger problems adhd raynaulds ibs prickly skin restless legs phlegm mucus dripping nose weight gain fatigue tumours cancer Gaul bladder issues tonsillitis adenoid problems bunged up nose all down to food intolerances. You are what you eat.
    I had so much pain for years overweight miserable and no good outlook. It’s changed my life finding out my intolerances. Talking with other people who had done the same the common intolerance is corn. Either corn/maize or one of its many derivatives.
    Meds are full of it too. So exasperating the problem.

  • Clyde Spencer

    Interesting opinion. Do you have any reliable sources you can cite to support your opinion?

  • Linda

    I fully agree with the HFCS info. Besides the information in the 1st comment, corn also, is universally contaminated with mycotoxins. Check out KnowTheCause.com
    Also, I have heard several MD’s state that 1tsp of sugar drops immunity for 24 hours. I started watching the Covid numbers start to rise as the Halloween candy started to show up on the store shelves. We’ll see what happens the 1st week of November. Is it just coincidental that as sugar intake increases October thru February that flu season follows those same months?

  • April

    Let’s not forget about certain preserves and additives. My eldest son couldn’t have premade chocolate milk or chef boyardee in a can. It made him mean and imbalanced.