A recent animal study has shown that eating sweets could help beat stress and obesity, and if the same effect is true in humans it could lead to the development of a new confectionery niche aimed at the health conscious consumer
In a study carried out by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, sweets, especially those made from sugar rather than artificial sweeteners, were seen to decrease the production of glucocorticoid, a hormone linked to stress and obesity.
For two weeks male rats were given free access to food and water, and also a small amount of sugar drink and artificially sweetened drink.
Experiments included exposing rats to both physical and psychological stress challenges after feeding and then monitoring their glucocorticoid levels.
The researchers, led by Dr Ulrich-Lai, announced their findings yesterday at an annual society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC.
They showed that when laboratory rats chose to eat or drink sweet snacks, their bodies produced lower levels of glucocorticoid.
It was also found that sweets made from sugar rather than artificial sweeteners were more affective at reducing levels and thus potentially hold more health benefits.
Researchers said that the next step in the process is to establish how sweets are causing decreased levels of the hormone. Co-author James Herman said:
"We need to find out if there are certain parts of the brain that control the response to stress, then determine if the function of these brain region are changed by sugar snacking."