Food and Behaviour Research

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Sugar in mind: Untangling a sweet and sour relationship beyond type 2 diabetes

Cherbuin N, Walsh EI (2019) Front. Neuroendrocrinol. 2019 Jun; 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here



  • “Higher normal” blood glucose levels contribute to neurodegenerative processes
  • Effects progressively increase from “high normal”, impaired fasting glucose to T2D
  • Neurodegeneration related to glucose metabolism impairs cognitive function
  • The same risk factors are implicated across the glucose impairment continuum

It is widely recognised that type 2 diabetes (T2D) represents a major disease burden but it is only recently that its role in neurodegeneration has attracted more attention. This research has shown that T2D is associated with impaired cerebral health, cognitive decline and dementia. However, the impact on the brain of progressive metabolic changes associated with the pre-clinical development of the disease is less clear. The aim of this review is to comprehensively summarise how the emergence of risk factors and co-morbid conditions linked to the development of T2D impact cerebral health.

Particular attention is directed at characterising how normal but elevated blood glucose levels in individuals without T2D contribute to neurodegenerative processes, and how the main risk factors for T2D including obesity, physical activity and diet modulate these effects. Where available, evidence from the animal and human literature is contrasted, and sex differences in risk and outcomes are highlighted.


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