Rotten Egg #8 - The Halloween Syndrome

Halloween candy

It was a dark and stormy weekend and it wasn’t just any weekend it was the weekend following Halloween mwaahaahaa. I wonder how many little vampires and goblins still have some Halloween candy left? And the ones that don’t I wonder how mom and dad are doing? Sugar is widely believed to cause hyperactivity in children and to exacerbate aggressive behavior in hyperactive children. Is this belief true or is this just another rotten egg?

First of all, lets examine why people think sugar causes hyperactivity:

  1. There’s an exciting event, such as Halloween (plus sugar)
  2. Parents observe “hyperactive” kids
  3. Parents then believe that sugar causes the behavior
  4. Kids believe what parents tell them
  5. The next time the child is exposed to sugar they believe they have the license to misbehave, and parents interpret this behavior as more disruptive if the child has had sugar.
  6. Cycle continues

In 1994, a clever experiment was conducted to determine if in fact sugar does cause hyperactivity.  Preschoolers and school-aged children were put on six different diets (three were sweet, while three were a ‘sham’). The children’s behavior was then assessed once a week by their parents, teachers, and themselves. The research concluded that there was no meaningful effect of sugar on children’s behaviour. So, yes this is just another rotten egg!

However, despite the fact that sugar does not cause hyperactivity it does cause dental cavities. Also, sugary foods can displace healthy, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables or milk products. So enjoy your Halloween candy but just remember to brush your teeth and have some fruit with every piece!

Image courtesy of aus_chick

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