Five-year-old Lora cannot have any sugar after seven in the evening. No fizzy drinks, no popsicles and certainly no ice creams (much to her chagrin). No exceptions, because otherwise, she will be hyperactive and have a hard time sleeping by her bedtime. Or so we, her parents, think. But are Lora’s vehement protestations and prolonged sobs justified?
The sugar-hyperactivity myth is based on a single study from the mid-1970s in which a doctor removed the sugar from one child’s diet and that child’s behaviour improved.
Since then, over a dozen larger studies have been conducted without proving sugar causes hyperactivity. Interestingly enough, researchers have found that parents are more likely to say that their kids are overly active when they think they’ve consumed sugar.
In one study, parents were asked to rate their child’s hyperactivity after consuming a drink with sugar. Unknown to the parents, the drink was sugar-free, but the parents still rated their child as more hyperactive.
While thoroughly refuted, the theory of the sugar-high continues to be a topic of ongoing investigation. But the results of these investigations continue to show that sugar does not affect children’s behaviour.
Still, limiting your child’s sugar consumption is a good idea. Though cutting down on sugar will not affect children’s behaviour, it may help to protect them against obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.