Sucrose and delinquency: Oral sucrose tolerance test and nutritional assessment

D. A. Gans, A. E. Harper, J. A. Bachorowski, J. P. Newman, E. S. Shrago, S. L. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Claims that juvenile delinquency may be associated with reactive hyopoglycemia or nutritional deficiencies have received widespread attention but little objective evaluation. To assess the validity of these claims, nutritional and psychological indices of juvenile delinquents have been measured. Serum glucose and insulin profiles during an oral sucrose tolerance test were measured in 137 delinquent and 41 nondelinquent male adolescents aged 14 to 19. In addition, nutritional status of both populations was asessed by anthropometry (height, weight, arm circumference, triceps skin fold) and biochemical measures (hematocrit, red-blood cell thiamin, and serum copper, ferritin, and zinc). Delinquent subjects had slightly but significantly lower serum glucose values at four of six time points (fasting, 60 minutes, 120 minutes, 180 minutes) and higher serum insulin values at one time point (30 minutes) compared with nodelinquent subjects. Changes in glucose from fasting levels indicate that these subjects were regulating serum glucose adequately, but doing so at lower values; changes in insulin from fasting levels indicate that black delinquents initially secreted more insulin than either white subject group. There were no significant associations between excursions in serum glucose or insulin and any adrenergic signs or symptoms of low blood glucose levels. Nutritional status of incarcerated delinquents did not differ from that of nonincarcerated subjects on most measures. Although the significantly lower serum glucose levels and higher serum insulin levels are intriguing, no support is offered by results of this study for allegations that sucrose ingestion causes reactive hypoglycemia in juvenile delinquents or that delinquent male adolescents are at greater risk nutritionally than male adolescents of the same age who are not delinquent. Results of the psychological studies discribed in hte accompanying article in this issue support this conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • behavior
  • hypoglycemia
  • male adolescent
  • nutrition
  • oral sucrose tolerance test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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