Most people think that sugar makes kids hyper, even though it’s been proved to be a myth. After all, you can just see their little minds go “boing!” after having soda or candy. A recent study in the Lancet, posted by Angry Toxicologist, might explain this contradiction – it’s not the sugar, it’s the preservatives.
Angry Toxicologist explains way better than I could:
They took 153 3-year olds and 144 8-9 year olds and gave them a sweet drink with either sodium benzoate, a common preservative, and a artificial colors/flavors mix or a placebo. The amount of preservative/color/flavor is less than what many children get in a day. They were tested on a standard hyperactivity index, as well as a attention test. The children were given different drinks on different weeks and since it was double blind, neither the children or the scorers (parents/teachers) knew which drink they got. And since the same children were tested on both, you don’t have to worry about variation between children as much.
Both sets of kids were more hyper when they had drunk the artificial color/preservatives in the bug juice. Scary, because preservatives are EVERYWHERE.
And you know, I’m all in favor of the existence of preservatives. It’s great that we have ways to make food not go bad without having to can or salt or dry it. I don’t want to go back to picking weevils out of my hardtack. But as a society, we’re addicted to cheap, sweet, fatty, deathless food – and as if obesity wasn’t trouble enough, it has to make kids hyper too.
Here’s a PDF of the Lancet study if you’d like to read it yourself.