It's a truth universally acknowledged -- and, for parents everywhere, verified this past weekend -- that a child in possession of sugar will turn into a hyperactive maniac. And yet, according to Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and journalist, the whole idea that sugar makes kids hyper has no basis in fact. Writing at the excellent blog The Incidental Economist, Carroll points out an incredible fact: In twelve studies trying to link sugar to hyper-ness in kids, none have detected differences in behavior between kids who've eaten sugar and kids who haven't.
Carroll is particularly struck by one study:
In my favorite of these studies, children were divided into two groups. All of them were given a sugar-free beverage to drink. But half the parents were told that their child had just had a drink with sugar. Then, all of the parents were told to grade their children’s behavior. Not surprisingly, the parents of children who thought their children had drunk a ton of sugar rated their children as significantly more hyperactive.
The link between sugar and hyper behavior, Carroll writes, is "entirely in parents' heads"; it's reinforced by the fact that kids are often given sugar on occasions which are already exciting, like Halloween or a birthday party. More (including numerous references) at The Incidental Economist.
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