If you’re desperately trying to steer your child away from sweet treats and have been using the inevitable sugar crash that comes with it as an excuse, you’re in for a rude awakening. Because it turns out the problem isn’t so much sugar as it is overly imaginative parents.
Sharing her findings on Live Science earlier this week, Laura Greggel explained, “If a child eats cotton candy, a chocolate bar or any other kind of sugary treat, will a hyperactive frenzy follow? While some parents may swear that the answer is “yes,” research shows that it’s just not true.”
Speaking to Dr. Mark Wolraich, the chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Centre, it was pointed out that even from as far back as the early 1990s, there has been no evidence to suggest sugar dramatically effects the immediate behaviour of children.
Go for seconds, little one. Source: iStock.
Instead, Wolraich says, parents have almost been programmed to expect to see a sugar high after a sweets binge has occurred, and because of that overanalyse a child's behaviour.
The energy bursts, he continues, usually come at times when children would be highly stimulated anyway, like at birthday parties or during Halloween. And by seeing their child behave hyperactively in these environments, parents' "ideas are reinforced by seeing it in those circumstances," Wolraich continued.
Go shorty, it's your birthday. Source: iStock.
Because while there are exceptions to the rule, generally, increased levels of blood sugar levels simply do no translate into hyperactive behaviour. "The body will normally regulate those sugars," Wolraich explains. "If it needs it, it will use the energy. If it doesn't need it, it will convert it to fat for storage."
Backing up the placebo via parents theory was a study that Wolraich and his colleagues conducted back in the 90s.
The breaking of the sugar myth is good for adults too. Post continues...
Taking 35 boys aged between five and seven and giving them a drink that contained the artificial sweetener aspartame (made of amino acids, not sugar), researchers told half of the mothers of the boys that their sons had received a drink with sugar in it. The other parents were told their sons were provided accurate information about the drink their sons had ingested.
Following a short waiting period, researchers then asked the mothers about the behaviour of their sons, finding that the mother's who had been told their sons had ingested sugar reported their child's behaviour as more hyperactive than usual, with the mothers who were told otherwise reporting no behavioural changes.
Are sugar crashes real, you ask? Nope. Eat up! Source: iStock.
Researchers also videotaped the interactions between the children and their mothers during the experiment and found that the mothers who believed their sons had ingested sugar stayed closer to their child, were more likely to criticise their behaviour, and looked at and talked to their sons more than the mothers who were not told their sons had been given sugar.
"The placebo effect can be very powerful," Wolraich said finally.
And while no one is trying to deny that too much sugar can be a seriously bad thing, it is time to find another excuse for not taking the lolly bag home.
* Main image via Youtube.