Debunking myths: Sugar makes kids hyper

PETALING JAYA: Sales manager Melisa Leeau avoids giving her children sugary desserts in the evenings or she would not see the end of them running helter-skelter and screaming their heads off.

Leeau, 43, said it would then be difficult for her to get her son, Ray Tan, six, and daughter Sara, four, to bed by 10pm.

“If they have sweets or eat chocolates or ice-cream at night, they will be running and jumping around, shouting and screaming and their bed time will be delayed by an hour or more.

“When I don’t give them any sugary snacks, they are fine,” she said, adding that she would give them milk to drink at night.

Leeau, who lives in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, said that her children being active during the day was not an issue but it was a concern for her at night as she did not want their sleeping time to be disrupted.

Putri Norhayati Zain, 33, said her children Adani Shahrir Rizwan, five, and Afiya, two, were rather active, so she seldom gave them sugary food except for the occasional treat.

She said she could see the difference in their behaviour each time they had sugary food.

“After they eat cakes or have sweet drinks, they will run around and talk non-stop, especially Adani.

Ray, busy playing with his toys.

Ray, busy playing with his toys.

“They will become more active than their usual selves,” she observed.

Putri Norhayati said they would also refuse to take their afternoon naps, and if they had sugary drinks for dinner, they tended to sleep later at night.

However, Florence Lim, 43, said her son WX Yan, six, does not show any sign of being more active when given candies, chocolates and ice-cream occasionally.The home-maker from Puchong said she tried not to give processed sugar, honey and fruits with high sugar content such as oranges, apples, grapes, durian, and jack fruits to her son, who has Down’s Syndrome, because sugar worsens the low muscle tone problem in her child.

“He has to do life-long exercises to maintain his muscles,” she said.

Rachel Goh, 37, who has two sons, said the occasional increase of sugar intake did not make any difference to her younger son’s behaviour.

The home-maker from Klang said her son was mildly autistic and his hyperactivity was due to sensory issues rather than sugar.

“When his senses are heightened due to his surroundings and movement of people, he tends to run around,” she said.

However, she said that some mothers she knew had claimed that cutting down on sugary food seemed to reduce hyperactivity in their children.