Is there really such a thing as a “sugar high”?
Apparently, children don't really get hyper from eating sugar. What could be causing their hyperactive behaviour? It could be the parents' expectations.
Feed a child candies and you can expect hyperactive behavior soon afterwards. Isn’t that an established fact? Apparently, not.
According to this article from Live Science, there really isn’t such a things as a sugar high. “Sugar does not appear to affect behavior in children,” said Dr. Mark Wolraich, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.
It doesn’t take a behavioralist to see how parents associate sugar with hyperactivity. Sugar is often the main attraction at birthday parties and other occasions that are enough by themselves to make children excitable—sugar or no sugar.
While it is true that someone with low blood sugar levels can get energy boosts from sugary snacks and drinks, that doesn’t apply for someone who has normal blood sugar levels. “The body will normally regulate those sugars. If it needs it, it will use the energy,” Wolraich explained. “If it doesn’t need it, it will convert it to fat for storage.”
A study from 1994 found that mothers rated their sons more hyperactive when told that the children had consumed sugar, even when they hadn’t. Also, mothers who believed their sons had sugar also maintained more physical closeness, and were also more likely to criticize, watch, and talk to their sons more.
Wolraich and his colleagues also conducted another study examining children whose parents deemed sensitive to sugar. Families were given a set diet for three weeks: One diet was high in sugar (sucrose), another was high in aspartame, and one was high in saccharin (a noncaloric sweetener).
According to tests and reports from parents, teachers, and researchers, the sugar did not affect children’s intellect or behavior. Wolraich also published a review in 1995 that combined the results from all of the “sugar high” studies conducted until then, and found that all had negative results.