Sugar cranks up kids, but leaves them cranky

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Yale University scientists have confirmed what parents have always suspected, that consuming sugar can elevate children's adrenaline level and affect their behavior for hours.

A study of 14 children found there was a tenfold increase in adrenaline levels in the blood of those given simple sugar and then monitored for five hours.


'Scientists have had difficulty substantiating what many parents have always suspected, that giving children too many sugary foods affect their behavior, said Yale pediatricians Timothy Jones and William Tamborlane.

The pair planned to present their findings at an annual meeting of the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association in Anaheim, Calif.

During the study, 14 children and nine adults were given glucose orally and had their blood tested every 10 minutes to measure levels of glucose and adrenaline, a hormone that can cause tremors and nervousness.

The researchers found little difference between the blood sugar levels in adults and children. In both groups, blood sugar peaked and then dropped to levels slightly below normal three to four hours after the initial influx of sugar.


However, consuming the glucose caused adrenaline levels to increase by 10 times in the children, whose levels were twice those of the adults. Because of the adrenaline change, nearly all the children complained of being weak and shaky.

'Such increased adrenaline levels may lead to anxiety, difficulty concentrating and the kind of crankiness associted with missing a meal,' said Jones.

'This response might have profound effects if normally fidgety children eat sugary meals,' he said.

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