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Sugar sweetens decision making
If you're about to negotiate a pay rise or make a big purchase, it might be a good idea to have a sugary drink beforehand, according to a study.

Researchers at the University of South Dakota asked 65 students to answer a series of questions in which they had to choose between getting a small sum of money tomorrow or a larger sum in the future.

The study participants responded to half the questions on an empty stomach and the other half after consuming a caffeine-free soda sweetened either with sugar or the artificial sweetener aspartame.

Blood glucose levels were measured at the start of the experiment and after the volunteers drank the soda.

"Within 10 minutes of drinking a sugary soda, participants' interest in a larger, future reward was higher," says Professor Xiao-Tian Wang who led the study that appears in the journal Psychological Science.

"It's like when you eat: if your blood sugar's high, you can wait longer to eat," says Wang.

"We did the study to see if the blood glucose level not only regulates eating behaviour but also decision-making. In other words, can you wait longer to get a bigger reward when your blood glucose levels are higher?

"We found that, yes, you can," says Wang, who conducted the study with fellow psychological scientist Robert Dvorak.
'Energy crisis'

Not only did having a higher blood sugar level make study participants less likely to act impulsively, but taking a diet drink made people more likely to act on impulse and take the immediate, smaller reward, says Wang.

"Giving someone a diet drink tells the body that there's an 'energy crisis' because you're giving it something that tastes good but it has no calories," he says.

"Your body realises that and tries to grab everything available right now. So diet soft drinks lead to increased impulsivity."

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