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Is Sugar Causing Children to be Hyperactive?

Author: Naomi Yang
by Naomi Yang
Posted: Nov 08, 2019
hyperactivity childr

Quite often, parents have developed a habit of blaming sugar for their children’s hyperactivity or their own energy crashes after they have eaten anything sweet. Many people have come to link hyperactivity in children to sugar, especially after noticing them go hyper during parties after consuming jelly and ice cream, which are rich in sugars. In 1973, an allergist Benjamin Feingold introduced the health claim that foods high in sugar were responsible for certain behavior. This was after parents had reported numerous cases of hyperactivity in children after consuming foods rich in sugar. However, scientific research studies have proved a more complex situation to explain this relationship.

Scientists classify sugar as a food additive that has successfully replaced fat as the main cause of obesity in many families. However, through numerous research studies, scientists dispute the fact that sugar is responsible for hyperactivity among children or energy bursts in adults. A group of scientists carried out a research on "effects of sugar ingestion expectancies on mother to child interaction" by assembling 35 children aged five and seven who were behaviorally sensitive in sugar. Although all children were given a diet of placebos, some mothers believed that their children’s diet was high is sugar. The researchers videotaped the interaction of children with their mothers in both groups over a short period.

The study found that mothers in the sugar expectancy reported hyperactivity in their children, because they exercise more control, closeness, and criticized their children. This study proved that sugar is not responsible for hyperactivity among children, because their diets only contained placebos. Owing to this, the experts explained that foods high in sugars, such as cakes, ice cream and sweets, are commonly associated with special occasions like parties or birthdays. Consequently, children are already intrinsically excited; thus their hyperactivity has nothing to do with sugar.

A team of researchers conducted a scientific study to ascertain the relationship between sugar and hyperactivity in children. They assembled 39 children aged three to ten and put them on three different diets for three consecutive weeks to study their behavior. The children were described by their parents as hypersensitive after consuming foods high in sugar. The first group of children was given food high in sucrose; the second group was given foods high in aspartame, while the last group were fed with food high in saccharin. The researchers observed the children for three consecutive weeks as the parents did not know their diet.

After three weeks, the study found no "significant" differences between the three diets. The experiment found no evidence to conclude that sugar led to hyperactivity in children, especially after consuming aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener. Furthermore, the researchers tried to interchange the diet within the three-week period to record any variations. However, no differences were reported thus concluding that sugar provides energy to the body, but does not generate hyperactivity.

Another experiment was done to test the expectation of mothers who believed that sugar was responsible for high activity levels of their sons. One group of mothers (experimental) was made to believe that their children were drinking sugary soda. The second group of mothers (control) was made to believe that their son’s drinks only had an artificial sweetener. The researchers made a close behavioral observation and found that, the experimental group of mothers criticized and maintained closeness with their sons to monitor the behavior. Since there was no significant difference, the study found that the "supposed sugar" did not affect the boys, but changed their mothers’ behavior.

In conclusion, numerous research studies have failed to find a positive correlation between sugar and high levels of hyperactivity. Scientists maintain the view that children are often hyperactive during social events where foods high in sugar are likely to be consumed.

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Author: Naomi Yang

Naomi Yang

Member since: Aug 08, 2019
Published articles: 2

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