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Health & Parenting

Busting the Sugar-Hyperactivity Myth

Are you convinced the reason for your son or daughter's rowdiness lies in a box of Milk Duds? You're not alone.
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Expectations Can Affect Perceptions

In spite of this research, why do so many parents still believe sugar makes children hyperactive? Some researchers suggest that simply expecting sugar to affect your child can influence how you interpret what you see. A study published in the August 1994 Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology showed that parents who believe a child's behavior is affected by sugar are more likely to perceive their children as hyperactive when they've been led to believe the child has just had a sugary drink.

Beyond Sugar

As parents, your observations are important, and any concerns you have about your child?s diet should be explored carefully and discussed with your pediatrician. There is often much more to the story of a child's hyperactivity than the Frosted Flakes he eats for breakfast every morning. Some factors associated with hyperactivity include:

  • Temperament
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Learning disorders (such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Sleep problems

Still Not Convinced?

If after looking at everything else in your child?s life you still feel food is causing an adverse reaction, your first step should be to consult with your child?s doctor. Extreme approaches, such as eliminating whole groups of foods, can do more harm than good. After giving your child a complete physical and studying his history, your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist or an allergist -- or you might seek one out on your own.

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