Does Sugar Make Kids Hyper?

It is a common observation that kids after eating too much sweets and cake at a party change from being gentle and affable little angels into hyper-active and enthusiastic little maniacs. However, the reason why this happens is not yet really clear.

You must have experienced that your younger brothers and sisters begin to make your life a living hell by bouncing around the house. You might start thinking that they are having a “sugar high” which is the reason for their sudden behavior change. However, does sugar make kids hyper? Is it the fact? 

Does Sugar Make Kids Hyper?

History of the Sugar Myth

The Feingold Diet, proposed by Benjamin Feingold in 1973, is considered by many people as the beginning of the sugar myth. As an allergist, Benjamin put forth the idea that giving children a diet which was devoid of artificial flavoring, salicylates and food colorings might help in treating behavioral changes like hyper activeness in children. Even though sugar was not the only food item that was indicated in the Feingold Diet to be kept away from children, most parents got the idea that refined sugar was the food additive that should be excluded from their child’s diet.

In 1978, the Food and Cosmetics Toxicology journal published a study whose results showed that low blood sugar or reactive hypoglycemia was the cause of hyperactivity in children. However, scientists have so far not been able to come up with a theory to justify these results.

Scientific Answers—Sugars Are Not the Culprits to Make Kids Hyper

After years of studies and conducting several experiments, the scientists have come to a conclusion that sugar cannot be responsible for causing hyperactivity in children as there is no credible proof available to back this notion.

For instance, Dr. Hoover of the University of Kentucky in his study found that clinical tests performed on children showed no signs of hyperactivity when food additives were added or removed from their diets although the parents of the children did report hyperactive outbursts.

For his study, the University of Iowa’s Dr. Wolraich assembled two groups of children, one with known sensitivity to sugar and the other a bunch of normal kids. The doctor gaveboth groups saccharin, aspartame and sucrose in equal amounts and tested them for hyperactivity. He did not find any irregularities or changes of note in the behaviors of the two groups.

Yale University School of Medicine’s Dr. Shaywitz also conducted an almost identical study to Dr. Wolraich in which he gave the children aspartame in a high dose but got similar results.

However, too much sugar may cause behavior problems.Sugar has been found to be relaxing for fussy or irritable children. Scientific studies have shown that sugar releases serotonin in the body which is a calming neurochemical. Thus, hyperactivity is certainly not caused by sugar intake. However, having too much sugar is another case which usually happens at birthday parties. When a child has too much of the sweet stuff, his body starts producing insulin to rid the blood of theexcess sugar. This creates a blood-sugar deficiency which results in sweet cravings and abnormally hyperactive behavior. The best way to deal with this issue is to moderate the intake of sugar by the child and give him healthy foods to eat alongside sweets.

Other Culprits That Make Your Kids Hyper

Any apprehensions about the diet of a child are something that must be taken seriously and deliberated in detail with the child’s pediatrician. As a parent, your take on the child’s behavioral issues is important, but you must consider that there are other factors at play as well when it comes to hyperactivity in children. Factors contributing to hyper activeness in children are:

  • Personality
  • Emotional disorders
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Sleeping issues

Possible Side Effects of too Much Sugar

1.      Cavities

While sugar is certainly not the only reason for cavities in children, having too much sugaris one of its biggest originatorsof the bacteria causing cavities. This is the reason why doctors advise parents not having their child sipping on juices or milk throughout the day. The sugar contained in them can enhance the risk of cavities. Thus, it is best to limit the consumption of sugar and make use of fluoridated water to ensure that you child’s teeth remain safe from cavities.

2.      Obesity

Even though obesity is not caused by sugar intake alone, it is one of the biggest factors for making children overweight. When kids eat sugary stuff or drink fruit juices, they intakemuch more calories than they can burn which end up with increasing their weight in the long run. Perhaps, this is the reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics has asked the schools to stop providing young children with sweetened juices and drinks by removing them from their cafeteria menus and vending machines. Doctors even recommend that babies under 6 months old must not be given any fruit juices at all since they can significantly increase the risk of obesity in children.

3.      Diabetes

Although sugar is not directly responsible for diabetes, having a high sugar diet does increase the likelihood of developing conditions like insulin resistance syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. When a child eats too much sugar, his pancreas responsible for producing insulin have to work too hard and eventually they stop producing enough of it, which results in the child getting insulin resistance syndrome first and Type 2 diabetes later on in life.