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Our Blog: September 20, 2012

Is Sugar Making Your Child Hyper?

child and hyperactivity

We all know that good nutrition is important, especially for growing little bodies (and brains). But you may be surprised to learn that sugar may not be the terrible culprit we’d assumed it was.

Despite the rowdiness at children’s birthday parties, study after study has shown that sugar does NOT seem to cause hyperactivity. Sure, it gives a small, temporary burst of energy, but the raucous birthday party behavior we see isn’t caused by the sugar.

The real problem with sugar is that eating too much of it doesn’t allow enough room in the diet for essential nutrients. A lack of essential nutrients can trigger behavioral problems, too.

Here’s the surprise: The dyes and preservatives in those neon-colored cupcakes CAN make your child hyperactive. Scientists around the world have been narrowing in on a list of chemical additives that may trigger hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and other symptoms in children. I’ve waded through the research on this, and while we don’t yet know all the details, it’s best to minimize chemicals in kids’ foods.

Your child’s brain is growing by leaps and bounds, and any chemical that makes her hyperactive will make it more difficult for her to learn – and more difficult to make (and keep) friends.

The bottom line is that filling your child’s tummy with highly nutritious, whole, unprocessed foods leaves less room for junk. We can’t avoid the occasional cupcake at a birthday party, but we can help teach our kiddos about how to prepare and enjoy healthy foods, and about how essential nutrition is to living a healthy, happy life.

How do you cut chemicals out of your family’s diet?

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.