Does sugar makes kids hyperactive, or is that a myth?

Is it true that eating a lot of sugar causes hyperactivity in children?

Parents have long blamed their children’s behavior on eating too much sugar, but experts say that’s not true. “It’s a myth that sugar causes hyperactivity,” says Mark Wolraich, professor emeritus of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. However, he acknowledges, “this remains a deep conviction. … Sometimes it is very difficult to change ingrained impressions about what affects behavior.

Wolraich conducted studies in the 1990s that disproved the idea that sugar causes attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. These included a double-blind randomized controlled trial that found that neither sugar nor the artificial sweetener aspartame affected behavior or cognitive function in children whose parents perceived them to be “sugar sensitive” at high energy, compared to those with “normal” behavior, even when sugar consumption exceeded usual dietary levels.

“It was pretty definitive,” Wolraich says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says sugar does not make children hyperactive, saying “research does not support the widely held view that ADHD is caused by excessive sugar consumption, too much television, by parenting or by social and environmental problems. factors such as poverty or family chaos.

Parents probably continue to make this association because children tend to get overly excited during specific events (birthday parties, for example) when the menu contains items high in sugar, such as ice cream, cake, etc. birthday and treat bags.

Additionally, “kids tend to consume a lot of sugar around the holidays, when there are other things stimulating them,” says Wolraich. “So it seems like they become hyperactive when they eat a lot of sugary foods.”

How was this belief born?

Some experts trace its origins to 1973, when allergist Benjamin Feingold linked children’s hyperactivity to the ingestion of artificial food coloring; additives; preservatives; and salicylates, substances found in plants and foods and also used in many medications, such as aspirin. He also wrote a popular book on the subject.

Although sugar is not among the dietary culprits criticized by Feingold, many parents have wrongly made the connection because high amounts of sugar go hand-in-hand with foods containing dyes and other additives.

In recent years, studies have linked several artificial colors, including red dye No. 3, to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children. A 2021 report from the California Office of Environmental Health Risk Assessment concluded that some children who consume food dyes experience these health effects, although sensitivity to them varies among children.

What else do you need to know

Even if sugar is absolved in this specific case, that doesn’t mean kids can eat it with abandon, experts warn.

“Sugar is not justified by other adverse health effects,” says Donald Hensrud, associate professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. “This provides extra calories and increases weight, contributing to obesity and possibly later heart disease.” This can cause cavities. It does not contain any nutrients and replaces other foods that contain them.

So what is the fundamental message to parents? “I don’t advocate giving kids a lot of sugar,” says Wolraich. “Sugar can be a negative factor in a balanced diet because its taste is very attractive. But sugar does not have much nutritional value. So eating lots of sugary foods that are low in other important dietary nutrients isn’t a good idea – but not because of hyperactivity.

News Source :
Gn Health

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