The Sugar Myth and ADHD Children

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by: James Wiley, MD

Sweets and candy, in general, are not healthy for your child’s teeth, overall health, and could quite possibly lead to unhealthy weight gain if too much is routinely eaten. While this is well-known, at Focus MD we believe it’s unlikely that sugar will change your ADHD child’s behavior.

Parents are still affected by the myth that sugar makes kids hyper. This may have started in the mid-1970s when an article appeared in a pediatric journal linking sugar intake and hyperactivity. This study didn’t control for the placebo effect of sugar on behavior. In other words, parents were likely to assume that the sugar would make the behavior worse.

Multiple follow-up studies since the 1980s have indicated that when  parents did not know whether the child received sugar or not, they rated the child’s behaviors the same. Another surprise – at least one study demonstrated that sugar increased attention in ADHD patients.

Bottom line: Don’t worry (too much) about your child’s Halloween or Easter treats affecting his or her behavior. Just make sure your little ones run off the calories and brush their teeth before bedtime!

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