10 Myths About Sugar

Sugar Causes Hyperactivity
It’s the birthday party itself, rather than the birthday cake, that's making the kids run amok. Fuse/Thinkstock

What parent of little ones hasn't heard that eating too much sugar will cause her kids to get too keyed up, or a bit hyper? And it often seems anecdotally true. Watch as kids scarf down candy, cake and soda at a birthday party, then promptly run wild all over the place, screeching and screaming. But do we ever stop to think that maybe they're just overstimulated by the excitement of the birthday party itself? Or ponder the fact that lots of adults pig out on sugary snacks and desserts with no similar aftereffects?

There have been extensive studies about the relationship between sugar and hyperactivity, and no link has been found between the two [source: Digitale]. A group of researchers further reviewed several reputable studies and concluded that sugar in children's diets doesn't affect their behavior, apart from a small subset of kids [source: Wolraich et al.]. Interestingly, another study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, asked mothers of boys whom they thought were "sugar-sensitive" to rate their sons' behavior after they'd had soda. The mothers of the boys who'd had a sugar-filled soda thought their children's behavior was more hyperactive than the boys who'd been given an artificially sweetened soda. The trick was that all the kids in the study had been given an artificially sweetened drink, meaning that the behavior was based on perception rather than sugar [source: Hoover and Milich].