Easter time usually means an overabundance of chocolate and candy laden treats designed to get your kids excited. But there are many reasons why parents and care takers should consider limiting children eating large amounts of sugar. When talking about sugar, we are referring to sucrose or refined sugar such as that found in packaged chocolates and sweets. Many studies address the metabolic consequences of sugar and how it can affect a child’s health with both short- and long-term consequences including:
1. It can suppress a child’s immune system
Studies have shown that sugar can weaken a child’s immune system and reduce its defences against infectious disease. This means that a child can be more susceptible to many illnesses such as the common cold and seasonal flus.
The human body’s microbiome is made up of trillions of good bacteria that help us to digest food, make vitamins and help to protect us against germs and disease. When excess sugar is regularly consumed, it may alter the balance between good and bad bacteria which will weaken the immune system.
2. It can cause alarming changes in the brain
Research shows that sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline in children and that this can cause a child to experience hyperactivity, anxiety, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating. A study by paediatric researchers at Yale University School of Medicine showed that after normal, healthy children were given large amounts of sugar on an empty stomach, their bodies release significant amounts of the hormone adrenaline. This caused symptoms in these children including anxiety, shakiness, excitement, and poor concentration. When the researchers examined their brains a little further, considerable changes were also observed in their brain wave pattern activity (8).
Another study experimented the effects that sweetened juice consumption had on young children’s behaviour. The researchers found that young children had more difficulty concentrating and more conduct problems after taking as little as 30mls of juice that had been sweetened with sucrose (1). Other studies have confirmed that children who drink more than 4 servings of sugary drinks per day are more likely to have signs of mental distress and depression. The same children also had more conduct related problems in school than other children who consumed drinks with less sugar (2).
3. It is linked to increased development of asthma
Researchers have found that the increased incidence of asthma in children and teens is associated with sugar intake. Researchers at the Nestle Research Centre in Switzerland discovered that a diet that is heavy in sugar causes the immune system of the airways to react and leads to allergic inflammation. This inflammation can then cause the airways to narrow and increase the production of mucous which results in asthma symptoms, including wheezing and shortness of breath (6).
There is also a proven link between the intake of beverages sweetened with sugar (soft drink) and asthma in studies on U.S. children and Australian adults (7).
4. It has been linked to inflammation
The foods we eat can significantly influence inflammation in the body. A randomized clinical trial demonstrated that when people drank normal soda, diet soda, milk, or water, only those people in the normal soda group had higher levels of uric acid, which drives inflammation and insulin resistance (3).
Studies show that children whose diets are high in fructose are also more likely to suffer from inflammation problems. When this high fructose consumption is paired with a diet that is also lacking in essential nutrients, children have a risk factor of double in developing inflammatory bowel disease (4).
Also, in children and teenagers who suffer the uncomfortable symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases, 80% have significant improvement when they are put on a specific carbohydrate diet that eliminates the consumption of all sugars for 12 weeks (5).
Children can be picky eaters especially when young, but what children eat can mean the difference between being hyperactive and being happily alert. Replacing those sugary snacks with healthy, antioxidant rich snacks such as fresh fruit and raw vegetables that will fuel the brain, reduce inflammation, and support the body’s natural digestive and immune defences.
Activated Nutrients Grow Up for kids is an all-in-one daily superfood blend that is low in sugar and packed with natural, organic wholefoods. It is easily added to a smoothie, juice, or a child’s favourite milk. Grow Up for kids contains premium, wholefood sourced (non-synthetic) vitamins to supplement a child’s diet and ensure normal growth and development is supported alongside boosting the immune system.
1. Goldman, J.A., Lerman, R.H., Contois, J.H. et al, (1986). Behavioral effects of sucrose on preschool children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 14;565–577.
2. Lars Lien, Nanna Lien, Sonja Heyerdahl, Magne Thoresen, and Espen Bjertness, (2006). Consumption of Soft Drinks and Hyperactivity, Mental Distress, and Conduct Problems Among Adolescents in Oslo, Norway, Amer J Pub Health;96,1815-1820.
3. Bruun JM, Maersk M, Belza A, Astrup A, Richelsen B (2015). Consumption of sucrose-sweetened soft drinks increases plasma levels of uric acid in overweight and obese subjects: a 6-month randomised controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr;69(8):949-53.
4. Penagini F, Dilillo D, Borsani B, et al, (2016). Nutrition in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: From Etiology to Treatment. A Systematic Review. Nutrients;8(6):334.
5. Mueller K, (2016). Novel Diet Therapy Helps Children with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Reach Remission, Seattle Childrens Hospital. Accessed 22/2/22, available at: https://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/novel-diet-therapy-helps-children-with-crohns-disease-and-ulcerative-colitis-reach-remission/
6. Ofodile C, (2021). What your child eats matters, De Splendour, accessed 22/2/22, available at: https://desplendour.com/what-your-child-eats-matters/
7. Park S et al, (2013). Association of sugar-sweetened beverage intake frequency and asthma among U.S. adults, Preventive Medicine;91,58-61.
8. Diabetes Talk, What does adrenalin do to blood sugar levels? (2018). Accessed 25/2/2022, available at: https://diabetestalk.net/blood-sugar/how-does-adrenaline-increase-blood-glucose-levels