Editorial: Sugar high, anger low for couples

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 10:14 PM

Parents have long believed that too much sugar for youngsters, particularly before bedtime, has a negative effect. They get wired and want to stay up late.

A study involving a co-author from UNC Wilmington says couples just might need that sugar themselves to prevent fights. The findings of Ohio State’s Brad Bushman and UNCW’s Richard Pond Jr. were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

And they’re already being challenged and debated. Studies are like that.

Bushman and Pond believe low blood sugar can make people extra sensitive. Bushman said we need glucose for self-control and that anger is the emotion we have the toughest challenge handling.

For their study, 107 married couples were the test subjects for three weeks. Levels of blood sugar glucose were measured. Participants stuck pins in a voodoo doll representing their respective spouse to indicate levels of aggression.

Fewer pins equated to higher blood sugar levels. Those with lower sugar levels pushed in twice as many pins. But Pond said about 70 percent of the time, no pins were pushed in.

Pond says eating and behavior are linked through the brain, which is only 2 percent of body weight but uses 20 percent of our body’s calories.

While Bushman advocated the candy bar, he also acknowledged a long-term strategy should be fruits and vegetables for keeping sugar levels stable.

A psychology teacher in the United Kingdom disagreed with the method of study. Another researcher in Mississippi, who studies psychology and domestic violence, agreed with the method and said it was reasonable to conclude it might be one factor in partner violence.

While we will stop short of endorsing or dismissing the study, we will agree on eating habits contributing to behavior. And we’d offer a non-scientific advisory for couples who encounter touchy times and discussions that could lead to arguments.

Ice cream.

Think about the last time anger was the lasting feeling when a cone or a bowl or a cup — even the whole carton — was shared. Who gets mad after having ice cream?

It won’t solve problems, but it might make a smoother conversation.