How Sugar Effects Your Child's Behavior

How Sugar Effects Your Child's Behavior

While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the idea that sugar leads to hyperactivity in children, there is actually no scientific proof to support this idea. Most parents will tell you that they can see changes in their child’s behavior just after that Easter egg hunt or while trick or treating, but science is yet to back these claims up.

Studies on hyperactivity and sugar

While detractors will point out that there have been no conclusive links between sugar and hyperactivity, that isn’t quite the whole picture. You see, when children consume refined sugar, they experience a rise in blood sugar levels which results in cognitive and physiological symptoms that can be mistaken for hyperactivity.

A study by Yale Researcher Dr. Wesnes discovered that children who consumed large volumes of sugar for breakfast experienced reduced attention spans and were not able to focus on even simple tasks. Another study featured in the Journal of Pediatrics (1995) by William Tamborlane, also of Yale University found that refined sugar caused a spike in glucose load.

When you consume sugar, your glucose levels spike and then drop sharply and when this happens, your body releases adrenaline to compensate. This adrenaline release occurs in children when their blood sugar levels are much higher and this results in some behavioral changes.

How soda consumption encourages aggression

Perhaps the most disturbing studies to date revolve around teens and soda consumption. Several studies were conducted to discover how consuming just one soda a day affected teen behavior.

A 2011 study from the Injury Prevention journal discovered that when teens drank five sodas a week, they were more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors including damage to property, violence and bullying behavior towards other teens and they were more likely to carry weapons.

The team carried out a second study and confirmed that even just one soda a day resulted in more aggressive behavior and fighting. Teens with high soda consumption also experienced other effects including anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness and suicidal tendencies.

According to a September 2013, Credit Suisse Research Institute report, as much as 30-40% of healthcare expenditure can be attributed to the consumption of sugar. When refined sugar is consumed in large quantities, children can experience a wide range of adverse effects. If you think your child may be experiencing some of the adverse effects of sugar, cut sugar from their diet for at least a week to see if it results in an improvement.

You can also consult your pediatrician for professional advice and nutritional guidance. Always read food labels; corn syrup and sugar can be found in many unexpected foods. Stick to fruits, vegetables and whole grains to ensure that your child has a healthy body and a healthy mind.

pic by Andy Carter
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