You throw a nice birthday party for your child’s special day, invite his friends and family. You watch as the nicely behaved kids walk into the door and put up their most civil behaviour. Before you know, the cake is cut, eaten, followed by a truckload of other sweets and drinks and suddenly the well-demeanored kids turn into hyperactive human beings who want to turn tables and pick up fights.
So the natural correlation is that sugar affects children and makes them hyperactive, or at least this is what most parents like to believe. The truth, however, is quite the contrary. Research has proven that sugar actually does not amount to any kind of hyperactive behaviour within children; in fact, sugar may actually affect the parents!
It is nothing but the obvious prejudice that the parents tend to hold about sugar and its consequences which colours their way of looking at things. Let us try to understand why parents tend to draw this relation. Sugar flows freely in all forms during birthday parties, Halloween or on other occasions. During these occasions, children seem to bounce off the walls and become extremely wild. Researchers say that this happens due to their excitement and not because of the sugar in their systems.
To quote Dr Mark Wolraich, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, who researched sugar's effect on children in the 1990s, "their (parents’) ideas are reinforced by seeing it in those circumstances".
It is common knowledge that anyone who is feeling down is given a glucose drink to uplift their spirits and to restore their energy, but this does not necessarily mean that giving sugar to a normal person makes them too energetic or hyperactive. Our body is intelligent, it regulates things only as and when it needs them; otherwise it just stores it away for future consumption. So while sugars do not cause hyperactivity in children, they sure can cause fat accumulation and obesity.
Your psychology also plays a major role in making you believe some things. According to a 1994 study in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, an experiment was conducted wherein about 35 children were given drinks with artificial sweeteners which were actually just amino acids. Half of the mothers were told that the drink had sugars. The mothers who were told so rated their children as more hyperactive than the other half of the mothers.
Moreover, mothers who were told that their children were given sugar happened to stay more close to their kid so as to monitor their already assumed wild behaviour. This set of mothers was also more likely to talk to their kids and criticize them. This was named as the “placebo effect”.
The above-mentioned experiment (study) was also conducted under different circumstances and during longer durations, the results remained the same. In conclusion, there is no scientific relation between sugars and hyperactivity. At the same time, you might want to keep a check on how much sugar your child intakes, in order to prevent any other health ailments.