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Dec 18, 2008 08:11 AM

BMJ: Sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity in kids

From today's BBC on line (, report of a recent study published in the British Medical Journal:

"Regardless of what parents might think, sugar does not cause hyperactive behaviour.

At least 12 randomised controlled trials looking at levels of sugar and behaviour - even in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - were unable to detect any difference.

Scientists also found that when parents think their child has had a sugary drink they rate their behaviour as more hyperactive - so it is all in the mind."

Fascinating! We believe what we want to believe.

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  1. This is one I really can't let go of, although I've heard of such studies before and I can't discount them. Even in utero, if I wanted to feel the baby kick, I would just have a sugary treat and wait 20 minutes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: julesrules

      Perhaps it was your nervous anticipation the baby was reacting to?

      1. re: BobB

        Of course sugar does cause hyperactivity in dentist's bank balances.

    2. I always thought this was crock. When my kids were growing up, no one ever said that sugar made kids hyperactive, nor did i ever notice any such effect. Now, that is all you hear. Have kids become more sensitive to sugar? I doubt it. Finally someone has said this is baloney.

      1 Reply
      1. re: emilief

        I agree, though my kids are still small. When are kids usually fed lots of sugary treats? Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas. In other words, it's the party, not the sugar.

      2. This has always been one of my mom's pet peeves. When I was a kid and the school would send home notes about no sugar in lunches, she'd get annoyed, say it was a crock, and continue to let us load our lunches with sugar. I was never a hyperactive child and my sister was always a bit hyper, no matter what she ate.

        2 Replies
        1. re: queencru

          I am adding this study to a long list entitled: "Scientific studies that are undoubtedly true but will have absolutely no influence on what people believe"

          1. re: zamorski

            Exactly my thought, but you expressed it better.

        2. My theory, based on nothing but personal experience and common sense:

          Mild hypoglycemia can cause lethargy. Sugar brings blood chemistry back into balance, thus eliminating the hypoglycemic effect. None of this is remarkable.

          So if sugar can raise energy levels from low to normal, more sugar can take things from normal to hyperactive, right? Wrong. The pancreas kicks in and blood sugar stabilizes. Oh well, nice theory.

          If you want hyperactive kids, you're better off feeding them coffee. My 11-year-old is proud of the grounds domes she can make brewing the stuff in a vacpot...

          1. If this is true, it's going to take the sting out of some of my favourite "Calvin & Hobbes" cartoons....

            And, as a diabetic, I am constantly fighting elevated blood sugar, and no one seems to think I'm hyperactive; indeed, I am more often compared to a slug.