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If you were to ask parents whether there is a correlation between sugar intake and their children's behavior, most would probably agree that there is. Curious about this alleged link, scientists have conducted numerous studies over the years to test whether sugar does, in fact, make kids more hyper. So it may surprise you to learn that they have yet to find a clear link between children eating lots of sugar and rowdy or hyperactive behavior.
What researchers have found is that parents are more likely to say their children are hyperactive if they’ve consumed candy or something else with sugar in it, especially on a holiday like Halloween. But rather than a "sugar high," the behavior is more likely caused by children getting excited about spending time with their friends and participating in a special occasion. Trick-or-treating is particularly exhilarating for youngsters, providing an opportunity for them to dress up and get a bucketful of candy, something that probably only happens once a year.
Although there is no proven correlation between sugar and hyperactivity, it is important to limit a child’s intake of candy and sugar. Many studies have shown that sugar contributes to obesity, tooth decay, and other health concerns. While it’s not necessary to completely deprive children of candy and other sugary treats, they should be consumed in moderation so that they have an appetite for the healthy foods their growing bodies need. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein are all essential parts of a child’s diet.
Sugar, spice and everything nice:
- Some studies indicate that sugar can actually have a calming effect on children because it produces the chemical serotonin, which contributes to a feeling of well-being.
- Emotional disturbances, sleep problems, and chronic disorders such as ADHD can lead to hyperactivity in children.
- If a parent feels that sugar – or any other food – is causing a negative reaction in their child, they should contact their pediatrician. Consulting with a nutritionist and an allergist may also help determine whether there is a significant problem.