New research suggests the long-term consumption of caffeinated sugar-sweetened drinks in place of water can cause lasting changes to behaviour, having profound effects on brain chemistry.
Long-term treatment (26 days) with caffeine in adult rats and sugar in adolescent rats enhances the behavioural response to drug administration, when compared to combined treated animals, after short (1 week) and long (6 week) treatment free periods, respectively.
Proteomic analyses of the brain identified over 500 differentially expressed proteins across pretreatments in the orbitofrontal cortex, an important brain region in decision making processes. Approximately 23 per cent of the proteins in the combined pretreated rats were changed when compared to control.
This study demonstrates that chronic caffeine and sucrose consumption causes enduring behavioral effects that are age and time dependent, and are accompanied by protein changes that may impact on mental health.