Is it true that sugar causes hyperactivity in children?

There is no doubt that diet can affect behavior human, however, the relationship between sugar consumption and hyperactivity is far from clear. For now, most studies find no evidence directly linking sugar to an increased risk of hyperactivity in children. Although more in-depth studies may still be necessary to completely dispel the doubt, there are other possible reasons why parents observe their children to be more active at certain times.

The idea that sugar can stimulate activity in children and increase the risk of hyperactivity began to catch on in the early 1970s and gained more and more traction over the next decade1. In 1973 Benjamin F. Feingold, MD, published his famous feingold diet and several books on childhood hyperactivity and its relationship with certain substances in food.

Feingold recommended avoiding salicylates, artificial flavorings and colorings, butylhydroxyanisole (BHA, additive E-320), butylhydroxytoluene (BHT, additive E-321) and food additives in general. Although he never specifically talked about sugar, refined sugar as an additive fell into the same bag. The Feingold diet became very popular, and still is today, although it has not been proven to be effectivetwo.

Another 1978 study linked the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with reactive hypoglycemia (low blood glucose when consuming sugar due to over secretion of insulin). This association reinforced the idea that sugar stimulates activity in children and can make them hyperactive.

Since then, many studies have been carried out that disprove this belief, but it still persists among society. While it is true that sugar, especially refined sugars that pass into the bloodstream quickly, have effects on the brain that can affect behavior3, it cannot be affirmed that there is a relationship with hyperactivity. However, there are many other reasons why you should reduce your sugar intake and avoid refined ones, for example, tooth decay or obesity.

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