Research: sugar sensitivity in children and teens

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Teens, Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies

Does your child have erratic mood swings? Does your toddler experience frequent and volatile tantrums? Sugar sensitivity may be to blame.

According to according to the article, "Sugar and Spice--But Not Very Nice," in the Fall 2007 Natural Solutions magazine, America might be in the midst of a sugar sensitivity epidemic. The author, Margaret Adamek, PhD, sites research by best-selling author and addictive nutritionist, Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD, who states that "Sugar sensitivity is an inherited biochemical condition resulting from volatile blood sugar and low levels of serotonin and beta endorphin in the brain." The result? A wide range of emotional and psychological issues including depression, anxiety, attention and concentration deficits. Obesity and diabetes are also linked to this genetic pre-disposition towards sugar sensitivity.

Children all ages can have this pre-existing intolerance for refined sugar products, and DesMaisons suggests that children who come from families "with a history of alcoholism, obesity, diabetes, or depression are more likely to be sugar sensitive and are at greater risk for addiction as a result." By addiction, she means: to sugar.

There is evidence to support DesMaisons' claims. Since 1970 Adamek notes that the average American has increased his or her consumption of corn syrup a staggering 40 times. Caloric intake has also increased by more than 300 calories a day, and the children of our nation regularly consume both fast food and soda in large quantities. Vending machines have become a regular facet in most high schools--and while some do not carry soda out right, most carry sugar intense sports drinks.

It's an issue worthy of consideration, especially if you have a child with inexplicable mood swings, tantrums, or depression. In her book Little Sugar Addicts, DesMaisons suggests that gradually weaning children off of a sugar intense diet, adding protein to breakfast, and having a regular routine for mealtimes helps to stabilize children with volatile blood sugar.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.