“Sugar and Hyperactivity in Children is a Myth”

The prevailing notion is that when children indulge in sugary foods, they turn feral and nearly uncontrollably bounce off the walls. Most parents really believe that sugar causes hyperactivity in their children. But scientific investigations do not support this assertion. Reportedly, scarfing down bowls of candy does not launch offspring into sugar-induced bedlam. In 1995, JAMA published a meta-analysis that combed through the findings of 23 experiments across 16 scientific papers. Surprisingly, the authors concluded: “This meta-analysis of the reported studies to date found that sugar (mainly sucrose) does not affect the behavior or cognitive performance of children.” But the authors noted that they cannot eliminate the possibility of a “small effect.” However, overall, the scientists demonstrated that there certainly is not an effect as large as many parents’ report. Still, some parents believe that their child is particularly sensitive to sugar. Investigators tested this notion and concluded, “For the children described as sugar-sensitive, there were no significant differences among the three diets in any of 39 behavioral and cognitive variables. For preschool children, only 4 of the 31 measures differed significantly among the three diets, and there was no consistent pattern in the differences that were observed.” In 2017, a related study appeared in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. The researchers investigated the impact of sugar consumption on the sleep and behavior of 287 children aged 8–12.

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