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BMJ: Sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity in kids

BobB Dec 18, 2008 08:11 AM

From today's BBC on line (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/778...), 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.

  1. n
    northside food Dec 22, 2008 09:33 AM

    I'm an adult with severe ADHD. While I don't find a correlation between my symptoms and sugary foods, I do find a correlation between my ability to concentrate and processed foods. When I'm eating lots of processed foods, including highly refined sugars, I'm a mess. When I monitor my diet carefully, and stick to homemade, or whole foods, I do much better. It takes some concentration for me to hold still, and not shuffle my feet on the rug, drum my fingers, fiddle with random objects, etc. so there is some increase in my movement, but it's definitely not running around the room screaming like we think of with hyperactivity.

    1 Reply
    1. re: northside food
      TampaAurora Dec 23, 2008 03:20 PM

      I noticed this as well, but completely by accident. I cut processed foods out due to an intestinal disorder. I noticed when I cut these out, I felt so much better. When I broke my IBS-diet, I noticed a sharp difference in my behavior. I now avoid eating those foods to save my comfort in more ways than one.

    2. Paula76 Dec 22, 2008 06:04 AM

      I agree with previous posts in that it's not so much sugar as such but all the other crap like additives, preservatives and artificial colourings that they put into sugary snacks to make them more 'appealing' to kids (i.e. addictive) what causes hyperactivity and other behavioural problems. It's actually been proven to be the case in many studies...so the problem is giving kids processed junk rather than foods that cointain sugar but are free from additives such as home-baked cookies and cakes. I think it is, as usual, rather irresponsible from the BBC to publish such a miniscule article 'debunking' a so-called myth without considering other studies that cover the issue of artificial colourings and E numbers. People in the UK (where I live) certainly do not need more encouragement to eat badly or feed their kids rubbish as they do that enough even with the incredible amount of information available on what constitutes an unhealthy diet.

      1. l
        lawgirl3278 Dec 22, 2008 05:27 AM

        A friend of mine who has a child with major ADHD was told by her doctor that it's not the sugar that makes the kid hyper, it's actually red dye. She was a bit surprised herself, but she definitely noticed a difference between her son eating chocolate or glazed donuts as opposed to Twizzlers or a popsicle.

        I'm sure it doesn't affect all kids like it affects hers, but I thought it was interesting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lawgirl3278
          lgss Dec 24, 2008 12:16 PM

          And the nitrites and nitrates among other things. Suggest she check out the Feingold diet (which has been around since at least the 70s) if she hasn't already.

        2. l
          lgss Dec 22, 2008 02:00 AM

          Maybe it's the sugar combined with the artificial colors and flavors. Give a kid who needs to be on a gluten-free diet some gluten and he'll be bouncing off the walls for hours...

          1. k
            KevinB Dec 22, 2008 01:19 AM

            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.

            1. alanbarnes Dec 21, 2008 07:04 PM

              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. q
                queencru Dec 19, 2008 09:16 AM

                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
                  zamorski Dec 19, 2008 06:47 PM

                  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
                    Sinicle Dec 21, 2008 06:28 PM

                    Exactly my thought, but you expressed it better.

                2. e
                  emilief Dec 19, 2008 08:31 AM

                  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
                    soiazabel Dec 22, 2008 10:40 AM

                    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. j
                    julesrules Dec 19, 2008 07:16 AM

                    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
                      BobB Dec 19, 2008 07:24 AM

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

                      1. re: BobB
                        Servorg Dec 19, 2008 08:41 AM

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

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