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.
By Michael Regalado
Are you convinced the reason for your son or daughter's
rowdiness lies in a box of Milk Duds? You?re not alone. Many concerned
parents and health organizations believe there is a link between a child's
diet and behavior. The latest group to join the debate is the nonprofit
Center for Science in the Public Interest, which recently released a report
charging that the government, professional agencies and the food industry
have been ignoring evidence that diet affects behavior. However, the majority
of studies so far haven't found a connection, and most in the medical industry
maintain there is no known link between sugar and hyperactivity.
Still, many concerned parents feel certain they've seen a cause-and-effect
relationship between sweets and rowdiness. Admittedly, more research would
be needed to completely rule out the possibility of a link, but there are
many plausible reasons other than sugar why a child may be bouncing off
Where Did the Sugar-Hyperactivity Theory Come From?
The notion that food can have an effect on behavior grew popular in 1973
when allergist Benjamin Feingold, M.D., published the Feingold Diet. He
advocated a diet free of salicylates, food colorings and artificial flavoring
for treating hyperactivity. Although Feingold?s diet didn't call for eliminating
sugar specifically, it did suggest to many parents that food additives
might be better avoided. Little surprise, then, that refined sugar soon
came under scrutiny.