By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Children’s birthday parties, for all intents and purposes, are maelstroms of chaos. Screaming boys and girls whirl about the room, reaching disturbingly-high decibel levels. It’s not a pretty sight, especially for the unfortunate chaperones. For the longest time, sugar has shouldered the blame for kids’ hyper behaviour, but facts seem to indicate that it shouldn’t.
Studies over the years have revealed that there is no discernible difference in children’s behaviour whether they are given sugar or not; this isn’t new knowledge either, since a conclusive review was released in 1996. Numerous double-blind trials involving various forms of the alleged hyperactivity-inducing substance have been performed and all come up with the same result. In a 1994 study, 35 boys between the ages of five and seven (and thought by their mothers to be “sugar sensitive”) were split into two groups. Both groups would receive a placebo. The mothers of the experimental group, however, were informed that their children had taken a sizeable amount of sugar. The end result was that the experimental group mothers were far more critical of their children than the control group.
From these results, one can draw the conclusion that when we perceive children to be hyper, that’s all that’s happening; we perceive them as such. If you truly believe something is going to happen or be a certain way, then of course you’ll see it as so.
So what makes kids hyper then? Take a look at an event when children most commonly go on a sugar binge: a birthday party. There’s a crowd of youths all in one place and it’s an exciting atmosphere. What kid wouldn’t feel a little different? Throw in a few games and it’s no wonder why they’re all bouncing off the walls. One point to note here is that while the sugar may not actually do anything for the children, the caffeine in their pop might. In addition to this, just as parents perceive their children to be hyper, kids can perceive sugar to make them hyper. It works both ways.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s alright for parents to let their offspring munch on chocolate bars 24/7, but just remember that any behavioural changes aren’t really due to sumptuous sweets.