By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In five days, it’s safe to assume lots of kids will be bouncing off the walls. According to the NPD Group, almost 90 percent of of 6 to 8-year-olds are expected to eat candy on Halloween. So, does sugar really make our kids hyper? Good Question.

This is a story where parents’ intuition often collides with the science. Most parents WCCO asked said they believe sugar makes their kids crazy.

“It’s fun for a while and then it’s a nightmare,” said one mom.

At least 20 scientific studies over the years have shown no link between sugar and a child’s behavior. The most cited one was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1995. It followed 48 children over nine weeks in a double blind study where the parents, children and researchers didn’t know how much sugar was in their foods.

The researchers concluded, “Even when intake exceeds typical dietary levels, neither dietary sucrose nor aspartame affects children’s behavior or cognitive function.”

“Some of the studies do show us that perhaps it can be the parents’ perception of they’re expecting the sugar high and sugar crash when, in actuality, it was just excitement from the birthday party or the event or maybe just overtiredness in general can trigger behavior in children,” said Hannah Kull, a nurse practitioner with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Another mother speculated for children who don’t usually eat sweets, extra candy might get them excited.

“In a healthy child, they are going to have a spike in their blood sugar,” said Kull. “With a functioning pancreas, they will be able to regulate that out normally.”

Overall, Kull recommends moderation when it comes to candy. Even though the science doesn’t demonstrate a link to hyperactivity, too much sugar is linked to obesity, cavities and diabetes.

Heather Brown

  1. Perhaps the “sugar”high and inappropriate behavior observed can be attributed to artificial colors and preservatives in the candy, rather than the candy/sugar itself.

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