It’s a story that every parent knows: you bake some cookies or take your kid to the fair, and an hour later they’re bouncing off the walls and driving you crazy. Bloody sugar highs. But almost 20 years of research indicates that the legendary sugar high doesn’t really exist at all.
If you’re anything like me, the suggestion that a sugar rush is a myth has you shaking your head. I don’t care what kind of research they’ve done. I don’t care that studies dating as far back as 1994 all come to the same conclusion. This phenomenon must exist because I’ve seen it myself.
Or have I? Maybe seeing isn’t believing. Maybe because I’ve been told from an early age that sugar causes you to get hyper, and because I myself used to go nuts when I had sugary treats as a kid, my own brain is wired to see signs that aren’t really there.
Mark Wolraich, MD of Johns Hopkins University was part of that 1994 study and part of numerous studies afterward that examined hyperactivity in children. The conclusions have remained the same for more than 20 years: sugar doesn’t necessarily get kids wired, but it does make parents look for signs of misbehavior.
Do kids get wound up after parties, trips to the carnival, and other events where sugar is plentiful? Yes, but it’s more excitement than sugar. The most common places where kids get sugar are events that excite them, making them more likely to go nuts and less likely to listen to their parents.