I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard — and said — “Don’t give the little dudes that! It’s full of sugar. They’re going to be hyper all night.” Or words to that effect. I can’t say it was exactly those words, but I think you get my drift.
Turns out, I and apparently every other parent in the world, were worrying needlessly. No, really. It’s true. Sugar does not, in fact, make the little dudes or dudettes hyperactive or aggressive. That’s what we call in the profession a myth.
Not only that, but this has been known to be a myth for almost 20 years. And, still, the notion that kids will turn into sugar-fueled dervishes persists long past time when it should have been put away.
In one particularly clever study — among a slew of studies finding sugar’s nil effect on unruliness — kids were given Kool-Aid sweetened with aspartame, a compound that contains no sugar. Researchers told half of the parents the Kool-Aid contained sugar, and told the other half the truth.
The parents who thought their kids were riding a sugar-high reported their children were uncontrollable and overactive. But a sensor on the kids’ wrists, that measured activity level, said the opposite: The kids were actually acting subdued. The study was published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology in 1994.
How’s that for ironic. Turns out the delusions of the parents shall be visited upon the children. It’s just one more example of the Odyssey Effect. That is, before I purchased a Honda Odyssey mini-van, I never saw any on the road. Once I got behind the wheel of one, the silly cars were everywhere. It’s all a matter of what you’re seeing, not so much what’s actually there.
So there you have it. You can relax about the sugar. At least a little. It’s still not the most nutritionally sound thing to let the little dudes eat, but at least you can rest easy knowing the sugar isn’t responsible for their misbehavior.
That’s all on you.