Does sugar make children hyperactive or increase alertness?

Take home message

If children are hyperactive after consuming sugar, it is probably due to other factors such as excitement. However, added sugars contain extra calories, without the nourishment of fruit and vegetables.


Children have been observed to be hyperactive after eating sugar. However, correlation does not prove cause and effect.

How did Daniel Hoover's team test the hypothesis?

children hyperactive sugar

How does the body process sugar?

So, what happens when we consume sugar? Little in nutrition makes sense, except in the light of metabolism.  Fortunately, biochemists understand in depth the process of metabolism.

digestions sugar calmness alertness

Proteins, however, contain the amino acid tyrosine which results in epinephrine, an adrenaline that causes alertness. Therefore, to maintain alertness, proteins would be more effective than sugar.

What did Daniel's team discover?
sugar children mothers alertness

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Digtale, Erin. Debunking a Halloween myth: Sugar and hyperactivity. Stanford Medicine, October 31, 2012.
Hoover, DW and Milich R. Effects of sugar ingestion expectancies on mother-child interactions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Nov. 1994.
Wolraich, Mark L and others. The Effect of Sugar on Behavior or Cognition in Children. Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov 22, 1995