Medicine or Malarkey: Does Candy Make Kids Hyper?

Throughout October, bowls of candy are popping up at school, the office, and nearly everywhere you look. With fall festivals and trick-or-treating, kids start coming home with monstrously large sacks of seasonal candies and treats. Time to watch out for that dreaded Halloween sugar rush… or is it? Does candy make kids hyperactive? For years, parents have believed that children who consume sweets get a subsequent “sugar rush” that makes them hyper and irritable. However, study after study indicates that there is no medical validity to this belief. No link between hyperactivity and sugar consumption has been found. If you’ve observed that your child and her peers seem to act up after consuming sugar, there may be other factors at work. Halloween provides a lot of excitement and disrupts kids’ normal routines. These may be the actual cause of hyperactivity that seems to be linked to sugar consumption. Are Candy Bars Harmful in Other Ways? Just because sugar is off the hook for hyperactivity, that doesn’t mean that it cannot be consumed without negative consequences. As with everything, moderation is key– and excess sugar is linked to obesity. Childhood obesity can make it harder for your child’s body to process sugar and produce enough insulin. Childhood rates of prediabetes continue to climb, and poor diets — many of which include an excess of sugar consumption — may be to blame. Are All Candy Bars That Bad? Over the past few years, a few candy bars with more virtuous-looking labeling have come onto the market. Some are touted as “natural” while others replace traditional sugar with date sugar or ingredients like agave nectar. Are there choices that are not quite so bad for your kids’ health? The truth is that your body doesn’t know one sugar source from another. Whether sugar comes from high fructose corn syrup, cane, sugar beets or another source, it is all processed the same once it’s ingested. That said, there are a few options on the market that contain less sugar and fat than others. Here examples of a few of those treats and their nutritional info: Peanut M&Ms: This candy option sneaks in small doses of fiber, protein and calcium. A snack-size bag has just 93 calories, 9.1 grams of sugar and 4.7 grams of fat. Tootsie Rolls: These can be a better option for chocolate flavor without all the fat and sugar of some other candies. A serving of three minis contains 70 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. 3 Musketeers: This candy’s whipped nougat interior makes it look like more substantial, which can make you feel more satisfied on less. Each miniature bar has 50 calories and 8 grams of sugar. KitKat: A light and crunchy wafer center keeps this option relatively low in calories. Each two-bar pack has 70 calories, 9.2 grams of sugar and 3.6 grams of fat. While these treats might not seem nearly as “bad” as some of their common counterparts, it’s still important to remember not to go overboard on any treat. Many treats can have minimal impact as long as they are consumed in moderation. Try limiting your child to one or two pieces of candy a day through the month. They’ll enjoy their Halloween treats without increasing their risk of tricky health conditions later on.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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