Sugar: Does It Really Make Kids Hyper?
A Place At The Table?
While some moms discover that even a small piece of cake can trigger a meltdown in their child, many kids can indulge in occasional sweets without a problem. "Desserts and candy can be once-in-a-while treats," says pediatric endocrinologist David Geller, M.D., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. "Once a week is a good goal. The body only cares what you do to it most of the time."
What's more, in small amounts, sugar can even encourage nutritious eating. "When I was little, I learned to love grapefruit if it had a little sugar on it," says registered dietitian Valerie Duffy, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut.
Similarly, a recent study found that adding about a teaspoon of sugar to a serving of whole-grain breakfast cereal -- such as oatmeal, wheat bran, or muesli -- made a tremendous difference in whether kids liked it, but it had no significant effect on their blood-sugar levels.
"There's some truth to the saying 'A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,'" says Duffy. So relax: Go ahead and let your kids enjoy sugar in moderation. You may even find ways to let that natural sweet tooth lead them down the road to a lifetime of healthful eating.
Jessica Snyder Sachs, the mom of a 12-year-old, is a contributing editor to Parenting.