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Sugar Making Kids Hyper Is Largely A Myth

There’s long been the notion that if you feed your children with snacks, candy, and chocolate that has too much sugar in it, your kids will be bouncing off the walls in no time. But a study from nearly 24 years ago shows that it’s not really that simple to blame sugar.

The study, which was published in the medical journal JAMA in 1995, concluded that sugar doesn’t have the kind of effect on children. It does not affect “behavior or cognitive performance” in children, although the study’s researchers say a small effect on sugar isn’t ruled out. For the longest time—even still now—parents believed in the link between sugar and hyperactivity, blaming candy bars and sugar-filled cookies for their children’s unruly behavior. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

The study also found that parents think their children are hyper solely because they consumed sugar. The team of researchers found that kids were active and hyper regardless of how much sugar they consumed, leading to the notion that this is nothing more than one huge myth.

child lollipop sugar
Credit: iStock / mzoroyan

However, this doesn’t give kids a reason to consume more sugar than they should. Added sugars throughout childhood is linked to developing heart disease and other health problems like obesity and elevated blood pressure later on in life.

According to CNN, Kristi L. King, senior pediatric dietitian at Texas Children's Hospital and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CNN in a recent interview, “If you look at the peer-reviewed evidence, we cannot say sugar absolutely makes kids hyper; however, you can't discount that sugar may have a slight effect.”

It’s also noted that some children, just like many adults, might be more sensitive to blood sugar spikes than others.

Parents are encouraged to give their children a diet that consists more of protein, vegetables, and fruit than high-fat or prepacked foods, snacks, cookies ,and ice cream. The median calories for active 4 to 8-year-old children is about 1,500. It is recommended that children only get less than 10 percent or their daily intake of sugar, which is about 33 grams per day.

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