Sugar Makes Children Act Out

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Sugar Makes Children Act Out

Yum! Is that frosting to blame for kids acting out?

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For many parents, it makes perfect sense. Give your kid a cupcake (or two) and in about 15 minutes, you can watch them bounce off the walls. It's a fact of life, one that most parents have come to accept: Sugary treats lend a free-for-all motif to birthday parties, sleepovers and similar events. But is sugar really to blame as the link between children and an upswing in wild behavior at fun group gatherings?

If you just mentally pointed at a fork full of frosting, you're mistaken.

A number of studies show there isn't a biological link between children's behavior and their consumption of sugar. Unless you count parents, that is. Turns out, sugar has a perception problem. When children dine on sugary snacks and then somersault across a room, it's just as likely the cause of the gymnastics outbreak -- or any active spike in behavior -- will be misinterpreted by parents. As adults reflect on what led up to a child's behavior, they're apt to hit upon a sugar-eating incident rather than the party itself.

Parents have been putting the blame on the wrong culprit. In fact, experts say scientific studies do not show any link between the food that's ingested and behavior. Researchers contend children are hyped up because of the circumstances surrounding the snack, not the snack itself. For example, when a child eats candy and becomes excitable at a holiday party, it's probably the party and not the candy that is the cause [source: Warner].

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