Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sugar High or Sugar Lie?

It is popular belief among many parents that giving children sugar is one of the ways to cause a cataclysmic burst of uncontained energy, often resulting in screaming, running children and crying, helpless adults. One candy bar too many and little Suzy is going to be sprinting up and down the stairs with excitement that only time can save Mom and Dad from. However, this mythological sugar high is exactly that – a myth. Sugar hasn’t transformed the once calm Suzy into a hybrid of the Energizer Bunny and a punk band on speed. Her surroundings have.
As it turns out, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that giving children sugar will result in these increased energy levels. Rather than the sugar itself, it is the environmental factors – what Catherine Fiorello calls the covariates – that contribute to the increased energy levels of children when they have sugar. Sugar doesn’t make kids hyper; instead, it is more important to note what is happening in the child’s life when sugar becomes a factor. Oftentimes, sugar is handed out as a special treat, something reserved for when friends come to play, holidays, or birthday parties. Suzy isn’t excited because you gave her a chocolate bar. She’s excited because her friend is over. However, because these instances so often coincide with sugar consumption, parents tend to assume that it is the sugar rather than the joy over spending time with a friend or the excitement of a birthday party that has rocketed their children into a state of hyperactivity.
For another example of this, check out: http://health.ninemsn.com.au/whatsgoodforyou/theshow/693949/does-sugar-make-children-go-hyper


  1. Although I agree that sugar is not the only culprit of a behavioral change in children, I do believe that sugar causes a chemical change in children that can cause the behavioral change. There are some medications one should not take with certain foods because of the chemical conflicts. So I do believe the myth of sugar causing hyper children should actually become sugar creates a chemical change in children which results in behavioral changes. But true, environment and lack of discipline are the biggest reasons why kids act the way they do.

  2. I don't have any children yet but I have seen my little cousins "hyper" before... not from sugar, but just naturally. That is how children are, they have lots and lots of energy and I doubt that sugar really makes that much of a biological change...

    My one cousin has ADHD and I remember when he was younger that my Aunt would never give him sugar because she said, "you're extremely hyper already if I give you sugar you'll really be bouncing off the walls". Now, he is all grown up less "hyper", but if I could go back in time I'd sneak my cousin a candy bar XD

  3. I found this chapter of the book really interesting because this is something I and a lot of people I know have grown up most of our lives believing. When i used to go out to restaurants as a kid, i used to scarf down whole sugar packets while my parents weren't watching.

    I don't believe that sugar doesn't play a role at all, but i do think there are other factors that play a bigger role, like lack of discipline. Although parents should regulate what their kids eat, they shouldn't restrict them from doing things like going trick or treating or eating birthday cake.