Eating sugary breakfast cereals can improve the memory of teenagers, scientists claimed today.
Australian researchers found those given high-sugar cereals first thing in the morning performed better in memory tests.
Michael Smith of the University of Western Australia compared the impact of low-GI and high-GI cereals on the ability of healthy adolescents to remember a list of words.
GI stands for glycaemic index and is a measure of how rapidly a carbohydrate breaks down into glucose. High-GI foods break down into glucose rapidly.
Researchers studied 37 students, aged 14 to 17, who ate a popular corn-based cereal (high-GI) or a high fibre bran-based cereal (low-GI).
The students were then tested to see how well they could memorise a list of 20 names of tools, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and kitchen utensils.
The subjects that ate the high-GI cereal remembered on average two more words.
"Those who had consumed the high-GI cereals recalled significantly more words than those who consumed the low-GI breakfast cereal," said Mr Smith.
The research is to be presented to the World Congress of Neuroscience conference in Melbourne later this month.
The participants were distracted by having to make a series of hand movements while trying to memorise words.
Mr Smith said this "divided attention" test, also used in earlier sugary drink studies, better reflects what happens in the real world, especially for adolescents in a busy classroom.
"Very rarely will the students have 100 per cent attention focused on the teacher," he said.
However, experts today warned against giving teens more high-sugar foods and drinks to boost their performance.
"It could be useful," said Dr Janet Bryan, of the University of South Australia in Adelaide. "But I wouldn't advocate sugary drinks in the classroom."