Sugar Awareness Week: The Effects of Too Much Sugar on Children's Learning

Blog Categories

Believe it or not, sugar doesn’t actually cause children to become hyperactive. That’s right! Although this myth has been closely held by many for a long time, it was proven without a doubt in a 1994 study that sugar has no effect on children’s energy levels. What a relief! Sugar does, however, have several interesting effects on kids’ learning. We all love sweet treats, but it’s important to monitor your children’s sugar intake.

Too much sugar can impede memory skills. Over-consumption of sugar has been proven in multiple studies to decrease memory span by literally “slowing down” the brain’s synaptic activity. Although a candy bar may be tempting before starting homework, some fruits or vegetables (or any healthy snack) will be far more beneficial to the learning process.

Sugar causes cravings. We love sugar because it activates our brain’s pleasure pathways. Sweet treats produce a reward response, and overconsumption can turn this into a cycle of endless cravings. There’s nothing wrong with having a sweet tooth, but keep in mind sugar is still a treat. Feeling hungry is a distracting feeling, especially for kids trying to complete their homework. A healthy snack will keep them satisfied far longer than a chocolate bar!

Too much can cause anxiety. Although the hyperactivity myth isn’t true, “sugar crashes” are a very real phenomenon. Consuming too much sugar causes our brains to constantly release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a large role in our moods and emotions. Too much can deplete these reserves, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression. Teenagers are already dealing with physical and hormonal changes as it is, and studies have shown that they are even more prone to these sugar-related crashes.

Sugar has a long-term effect on learning. A comprehensive study at UCLA showed that a diet high in high-fructose corn syrup literally slowed down the brains of rats. Because of the numerous effects sugar has on brain pathways and neurotransmitters, the scientists in the study concluded that sugar “over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information.”

There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional sweet treat! Rewarding yourself with a candy bar, chocolate, or a piece of cake is a pleasure everyone should take part in. However, it’s still important to remember that your kids’ sugar intake should be moderated. We like sugar because it makes us feel good – but these natural effects can be habit forming and damaging to the learning process. Long-term over-consumption can lead to more serious health problems, like diabetes. For this year’s Sugar Awareness Week, we urge everyone to cut back on sugary foods!

More Posts Like This
  • The Complete Guide: Preparing For Your College Interview

    Many colleges and universities require prospective students to attend an interview during the application process. This can be a great opportunity to make a positive impression and improve your chances of admission.

    Read More
  • How to Prepare For and ROCK Your Next Class Presentation!

    Got a big class presentation coming up? Tutor Doctor can help! Although speaking in front of a classroom can be intimidating, there are lots of great ways you can prepare (and hopefully take some of the edge off). Here's how to prepare for and ROCK your next class presentation!

    Read More
  • Why Executive Functioning Skills are Imperative for School and Life

    Executive functioning skills play a main role in time management, organization, and effective planning. It's important to start developing these skills at a young age, as children will use executive functioning abilities for the rest of their lives. Tutor Doctor has some great tips to help parents work with their kids to hone these vital skills.

    Read More