When you're a parent whose child has a birthday party coming up, the thought of it can fill you with dread; sweets, fizzy drinks and cake - how will they possibly calm down afterwards?
However the assumption that sugar causes kids to be hyperactive has now been slammed by experts, with psychologists explaining that it's mums and dads who put two and two together. In reality, what appears as a sugar rush is simply the adrenaline children feel when they are united and it just so happens that there are sugary treats around them.
If anything, predicting that kids will get excited and act up after eating such things only encourages youngsters to meet the stereotype, according to Professor David Benton, professor of psychology at Swansea University.
“People are mixing the fact that it gives you energy with feeling energetic.
“Sugar does not increase the activity of children. It is the expectation of the parents. Children get hyperactive at party, running around wild and winding themselves up. That is the problem distinguishing one thing from another. The child knows they can let themselves go, so they do," he said during a talk at the Cheltenham Science Festival.
“But there is a very clear message that sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children.”
Professor Benton explained that by putting their children on a "shorter rein", parents interpret the behaviour of their little ones differently.
He also noted that from his studies on the effect glucose has on people, he is "absolutely confident" that it doesn't make individuals feel energetic.
If anything, he believes kids would benefit from a bit more food at school to help boost their concentration levels and perform better.
“That’s not to say we should be giving sugar drinks to children. But children are different from adults in that their brain is a larger percentage of their body, so it takes a larger percentage of energy. Also the brain tissue uses twice as much energy, so you need a continual supply of energy," he said.
“That’s not to say it should be supplied by sugar drinks, but a child does need, on a regular basis, to be consuming food. When it is released slowly, the child is in a better mood and performs better at school."
So while flooding your child with sugary treats isn't recommended or encouraged, parents who are fearing the next birthday party should take a deep breath. After all, surely it's much nicer if your son or daughter is full of fun and laughter while with their friends!
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