ADHD and Sugar: Information for Parents

It’s a myth that sugar makes kids hyperactive. Nevertheless, you might think about helping your child cut back not only on sugary foods but also on other foods that tend to make blood sugar skyrocket, such as white rice and cereals with little fiber.

In addition to affecting blood sugar, these highly processed foods are notoriously low in important vitamins and minerals (although cereal manufacturers add some of them back in).

Remember, steady blood sugar levels benefit the brain, whether a child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or not. But hyperactive children may have particular problems metabolizing sugar. It’s worth noting that the hallmarks of low blood sugar include problems with attention and focus, moodiness, and frustration.

Nixing sugar also helps starve out the harmful fungi and bacteria in the digestive tract that thrive on sugary foods and contribute to food sensitivities/allergies and imbalanced immune function. It’s interesting to note that overgrowth of harmful bacteria like clostridia has been linked to another childhood developmental condition, autism.

The National Institute of Mental Health says the following about sugar:

The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular, but more research discounts this theory than supports it. In one study, researchers gave children foods containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The children who received sugar showed no different behavior or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute.

In another study, children who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the children got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their children were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their children had gotten sugar rated them as more hyperactive than the other children and were more critical of their behavior, compared to mothers who thought their children received aspartame.

See Also:
Diet and ADHD: Why Food Matters
How to Break a Sugar Habit
Online Resources for ADHD

Sources: Food Cures, National Institute of Mental Health

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.