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.
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.
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