It’s a commonly held belief that has persisted throughout our culture for decades. The belief that sugary foodstuff and candy will make your children hyperactive and excitable. But is this belief founded upon myth or reality? Do candy and sweets send your kids into a frenzy? Let’s find out what science has to say about the matter.
A Lack Of Evidence
Excess sugar in children’s diets has been proven to cause tooth decay and obesity, but there is no current scientific evidence supporting any connection between hyperactivity and sugar consumption. Sugar does not, in fact, make your kids hyperactive.
Dr. Vreeman and Dr. Carroll, who are both pediatricians at Riley Hospital for Children, report that “In at least 12 double-blinded, randomized, controlled trials, scientists have examined how children react to diets containing different levels of sugar. She continues, “None of the studies, not even studies which look specifically at children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, could find any measurable differences in behavior between children who had sugar and those who did not.”
How Did This Misconception Become So Widespread?
The idea was first introduced to the world by Benjamin Feingold. Mr. Feingold wrote a popular diet book that contained first hand accounts of parents who reported sugary foods and drinks altered the behavior of their children.
His book was flawed, however. The reports contained within his book showed that only parents who believe sugar will cause hyperactivity in their children will notice the effect. Parents that do not believe in it are extremely less likely to notice hyperactivity in their children. This is a form of confirmation bias.
Physicians know of this bias and will recommend that their child be put on a low calorie diet. The physicians aren’t doing this for the children, instead, they are doing it for the sake of the parents. Many parents refuse to believe that sugar is not responsible for making their children hyperactive.
However, just because children won’t become noticeably hyperactive by consuming sugar does not mean they should carelessly be given sweets and sodas. Diabetes and childhood obesity are very real disorders caused by sugary diets, and they are on the rise. Sugar is also the largest contributing factor for the formation of cavities and tooth decay.
If you are looking for a reason to sharply cut back on your child’s sugar consumption, don’t do it because you think it alters their mood. Do it because you value their overall health.