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Post Written By Sandie Glass, Owner of Innovation ROI

A Strategic Full Service Ideation & Research Company

Yes, you heard it here. I recently read that high consumption of sugar-rich foods could slow memory and learning (see Nutraingredients.com article, Sugar Makes You Dumber). This got me thinking about sugar’s impact on our ability to brainstorm and problem-solve.

First, here are some facts to share. Did you know that the average American consumes about 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year? That doesn’t even include the natural sugars we consume in fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. And you don’t need to be a medical expert to sense that those numbers seem incredibly high. It is clear that American’s have a huge sweet tooth – and this could explain a lot in regards to the difficulties of our children learning in school as well as the increase in obesity, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.

Could sugar also be the culprit in our dismal innovation results? Approximately 30,000 new products are introduced each year and approximately 95% of them fail. Many things can affect the success or failure of an idea.  Is the idea provocative enough for consumers to buy, did the research respondents evaluate them correctly, or were the marketing plans buzz-worthy enough to generate trial and repeat purchase? We continue to test, test and re-test along the innovation process to ensure our market success, but with a 95% failure rate, something seems to be terribly wrong with the process, don’t you think?

I’m sure sugar is not totally to blame (if at all), but it does make you wonder what is going wrong with the  innovation processes we have in place that are designed to increase our chances for marketplace success. Maybe our success is as simple as eating omega-rich salmon since the study (published in The Journal of Physiology) showed that by adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage of sugar.

Whatever the cause, I certainly would rather stack the odds of success in my favor. So this is a good reminder to all of us to make “smart” choices with our food – a phrase which now takes on a whole new meaning.  Life is challenging enough and the last thing we need is to do something stupid because we ate that sugary donut, a cheese danish or candy bar.

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