Saturday, July 7, 2012

Childhood Development Myths

Meghan Jirkovsky
Second post

Chapter 4 of our text revolves around childhood development. Listed on pages 88-90 are common beliefs that a surplus of people consider to be true. The first question at stake is whether or not these common beliefs are in-fact true, or if they are myths, but more importantly, a second question stands: Why are these “beliefs” considered to be untrue and therefore, myths? The first myth proclaims, “Don’t give him that candy! Sugar makes him so hyper”. Although parents and teachers report that sugar results in hyperactivity when empirical research and data shows that sugar has no effect on a child’s behavior as reported by outside observers. Parents and teachers alike assume that it is the sugar itself that makes a child hyper but research concludes that parents disregard covariates.

                A covariate is defined as another variable that is associated with the variable of interest; in this situation the main variable is sugar and the covariate may be a birthday party, day on the boardwalk, a Halloween party, ect. The book also notes that parenting style effects behavior. For example, parents who let their kids eat all the sugar they want, are most likely going to let their children run wild in other aspects too, whereas parents who restrict the amount of consumed sugar for their children for health reasons, are likely to teach obedience and self-discipline.

                Recent scientific research from scientists from Yale Scientific Magazine, proclaim that sugar may at least influence behavior, but does not cause hyperactivity. A conducted study found that having a large amount of sugar for breakfast led to a severe deterioration of attention span when compared to having no breakfast or eating whole grain cereal. Research reports that children given sugar had higher levels of adrenaline; scientists conclude that because sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and therefore causes blood sugar to rise, which leads to higher adrenaline levels and symptoms associated with hyperactivity.

 I listened to my mother, for years, telling my dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins not to let me consume anything with red dye because it’ll make me too hyper. Although I disagreed, she swore that it made me bounce off the walls. It is interesting me that recent scientific studies are proving that sugar does not infact cause hyperactivity but it makes sense that it can influence it.


  1. I found the idea of a co-variate very interesting. I never really considered when children are offered extra sugar or treats, but it is almost always at a special event. As a child I was aloud a bowl of ice cream for desert at night and it never made me "hyper." However if you gave me a bowl of ice cream when friends were over, on vacation, at a birthday party, etc. my reactions were very different. High levels of stimulation have a huge impact on children's behavior and I think this is a more prominent cause than anything they ingest. Glad science is making a breakthrough!

  2. I was so surprised when I read about this. I have always been one to believe that sugar makes you hyper; especially children. I work in a childcare center and when a child seems very hyper I always think to myself, "what did they have for breakfast!" This research was very interesting and something that I can observe on a daily basis.

  3. Here are two questions about processed sugar that science could address. Is the consumption of processed sugar a significant contributor to the overall child and adult obesity epidemic in this country? Is obesity a result of a psychological disorder which is exasperated by the consumption of processed sugar? Great stuff, sugar that is!