Few substances are as prevalent in human lives as sugar is. It pervades foods in so many subtle ways that most people do not even notice this ingredient in meals. Yet, sugar has also served as a source of numerous misconceptions, one of which states that there is a direct link between sugar consumption and excessive levels of activity in children. Understanding the evidence behind the effect of sugar on the child organism is essential in differentiating between myths and science.
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The popular myth contends that the more sugar-filled products children consume, the higher their activity drive is. WebMD posits that the theory originated in the 1970-s when a suggestion that food additives cause hyperactivity went viral (Busting the Sugar-Hyperactivity Myth). In essence, the explanation is that the inflow of glucose stimulates children, making them excessively active, thus justifying the need for a sugar-free diet.
However, there is little scientific evidence proving the direct causative effect of sugar on children. Actually, WebMD specifically stated that “sugar in the diet did not affect the children’s behavior” (Busting the Sugar-Hyperactivity Myth). The researchers did acknowledge that a small percentage of children can be affected by the sugar in their diet, but it would also be accompanied by emotional disturbances, learning difficulties, sleep deprivation, and temperament.
Altogether, it is evident that sugar alone does not affect children’s behavior. It is easy to blame sugary food on child activities, thus giving rise to a popular misconception. In reality, hyperactivity is a result of several emotional, physiological, and psychological factors, which can be exacerbated by sugar. Nevertheless, it is incorrect to pertain all changes in child behavior to diet exclusively, without considering the evidence of other aspects of health being as prevalent.