How too much sugar consumption affects your child’s health

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 12:26 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Many of us have come to learn that eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and disease, but what specifically can it do to our children? Doctors say too many sugary food and drinks can lead to behavioral, emotional and learning problems.

Dr. Michael Goran is Professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and co-director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. Goran recently teamed up with co-author Dr. Emily Ventura, an expert in nutrition education and recipe development, for the book “Sugarproof: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do.”

Dr. Goran says sugar activates the reward center in the brain, making it extremely addictive. High levels of sugar, especially fructose, amplifies the stress response, particularly during periods of brain development. That means kids or teens who experience a stressful situation like taking an exam or dealing with a friendship issue, will have more trouble coping if they have consumed a lot of sugar.

Over time, studies show that too much sugar literally shrinks the brain. Studies in children show that those who eat and drink a lot of sugar have lower scores on standardized testing. There is not enough data right now to link sugar as a cause of ADHD, but there is data showing that excess sugar intake can exacerbate the hyperactivity associated with ADHD. Children are more susceptible to rapid blood sugar highs and lows which may result in major spikes and drops in mood and disposition.

Dr. Goran also points out that artificial sweeteners are not the solution. Alternative sweeteners may leave you with an unfulfilled desire for calories, and studies show you end up eating more throughout the day.

“Sugarproof: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do” works to dispel myths about the various types of sugars and sweeteners, helps families identify sneaky sources of sugar and suggests realistic solutions to reduce sugar consumption and protect kids. Learn more here.

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