Let’s find out if sugar does cause hyperactivity in children or not. Remember as a child when you’d go to a party or family event and eat all of the cakes and sweets. Only to find yourself full of energy running around the house an hour later?
What was the main cause of this hyperactive behaviour? Many adults today primarily blame the amount of sugar in our cakes and sweets as the main reason as to why our children now become hyper. Some have even swapped your standard Haribo and Diet Coke for sugar-free alternatives just to keep their children calm and well behaved. But to what extent is sugar the main cause of hyperactivity in children?
The idea that hyperactivity is due to sugar, originated in the 1970s in which a child’s behaviour changed after the removal of sugar. However, since this, studies have suggested that there is little to no correlation between sugar consumption and hyperactivity in children. In fact sugar does quite the opposite to the body, sugar consumption is known scientifically for making you feel tired, irritable, and even increases risks of developing anxiety and depression.
Why is my child hyper if it’s not sugar?
Rather than the sugar itself, your child may become hyper due to the excitement of parties and events in which they get to play games with their friends and meet new children. This excitement creates a behaviour in which they are full of energy, often being misunderstood as being hyper from sugar.
Whilst many of us have seen children arrive at a party well behaved, polite and relaxed, then become over-energetic and excited after a couple of bags of sweets and a few cakes, studies have shown it is not the cakes that are causing this behaviour. One study looked at the expectations of parents who believed that sugar had an adverse impact on their son’s behaviour.
Two groups were set up. One in which the mothers believed their sons were drinking a sugary drink and another group in which mothers believed their sons were drinking a beverage containing a sweetener.
Those who were told their sons were drinking sugary drinks reported their sons as being more hyperactive than those who had drunk the ‘sweetener’ based drink. However, at the same time. The mothers were being observed by the researchers, who reported a change in the mother’s behaviour, but not the child’s.
They stated that the mothers who believed their son had a sugary drink stayed closer to them and were more observant than those who weren’t. This suggests that it could be the parent’s perception of sugar in sweets and drinks that makes them believe sugar makes their child hyper.
Although studies have shown that there may not be a correlation between sugar and hyperactivity in children. It is important to note the other impacts sugar can have on your child. An overconsumption of sugar can result in appetite problems, as well as rotten teeth and weight gain over time. Therefore, although sugar itself may not be the main cause of hyperactivity in your children. It’s important to monitor and limit its consumption anyway.
How much sugar should be consumed?
Sugar. It is looked down upon by most adults and parents alike. It’s well known for the many negative effects that it can have from weight increase to tooth damage. However, in the modern world, many of our foods come with sugars, even when you wouldn’t expect them too. There are many sugars found in our everyday fruits, vegetables and even our milk. Thus making it extremely difficult to monitor how much sugar we consume, as well as how much our children consume.
Additionally, foods such as bread, salad dressings and even children’s breakfast cereals often contain high amounts of sugar. Meaning that it is often more difficult to find foods without sugar than with it. Whilst a small amount of natural sugar is actually beneficial for your children, too much can have a range of negative effects. Often impacting your children in later life. So, how much sugar should your child be consuming on a daily basis?
According to Public Health England, the daily amount of sugar for children depends entirely on how old they are. In general, it is advised that:
- Children from four to six should have a maximum of 19g of sugar daily, which is around five teaspoons
- Children from seven-plus should have a maximum of 24g, which is around six teaspoons
How much sugar are kids eating?
One recent study conducted at the University of Birmingham found that on average, children are consuming around 75g of sugar a day. This is almost four times their daily allowance. In this study, they also found that parents are not aware of how much sugar is often contained in foods that they give their children on a daily basis. Drinks in packed lunches such as fruit juices often contain over 24.8% of a child’s daily intake. Whilst breakfast cereals often contain more than a daily intake of sugar from just one portion.
One great way to reduce your child’s intake of sugar is to monitor everything they eat throughout the day. In terms of breakfast, there are many alternatives to your every day cereals, from low-fat spreads on toast to malt loaf, as well as water or unsweetened fruit juice as a drink.
For your child’s lunch, you can make a packed lunch at home, containing a mix of dried fruits, to home-made rice cakes. This ensures that you know exactly what is going into their food.
This will help you to significantly decrease sugar consumption. For dinners, it is important to reduce ‘ready meals’ or sauces that contain high amounts of sugars and salt. You can check this easily on the packaging of any sauce that you are buying. Ensuring that your child does not consume too much sugar.
Overall, it is important to make sure that your child has some sugar in their diet. Sugar is needed by the human body to operate and in the correct dose will have a range of benefits. Just make sure that you know what your child is consuming. As too much sugar over a long period of time can have a very negative impact.
In regards to whether or not sugar can cause hyperactivity or not is unclear as it may just be excitement. Either way, you should encourage your child to eat healthy and make swaps from sugar ladened snacks to natural fruits.