White sugar does not cause children's behaviour problems


When parents think their children are affected by sugary foods such as sweets, icypoles, soft drinks and birthday parties, they are usually reacting to additives such as colours and preservatives.


If children on an additive-free diet appear to react to sugar, their problem is more likely to be due to food chemicals called salicylates that occur naturally in foods from plants such as fruit.

•    White sugar, brown sugar, icing sugar caster sugar, maple syrup , rice syrup and golden syrup are low in salicylates.
•    Raw sugar, honey and molasses are high in salicylates.

Reactions to salicylates are delayed and cumulative so parents never work out for themselves what the problem is. The scientific way to test for additive and salicylate intolerance is to do the RPAH elimination diet.

"I recently went to a failsafe kids' party. The other parents commented how well-behaved all the children were, without the 'sugar high' normally seen at parties. They were very surprised when told the foods did contain sugar but were additive-free and low in salicylates." - quote from a failsafe mother in Fed Up by Sue Dengate  

Sugar and obesity

Although white sugar does not cause behaviour problems, it can contribute to obesity  and tooth decay, so should be consumed in limited amounts, preferably as part of a balanced meal or nutritious snack such as rolled oat bars, not in drinks. Processed foods are likely to contain both hidden sugar and additives. Home-cooking with foods as grown is healthier.

RPAH sugar guidelines

"Have sugar in sweets in MODERATION ie not more than one or two teaspoons of sugar or one or two sweets at a time." -  RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook

Sugar free diets

A friend of mine recently went on a sugar free diet. She was very happy when she lost 4 kgs in ten days. But you have to think. Which foods had she cut out as a result of avoiding sugar? ANSWER: Chocolate ("I thought dark chocolate was healthy" - but it is also high in fat), and ready meals - "I live alone, it was easier to just heat up a frozen meal". These are full of additives, fat, salt and sugar - all of which can contribute to obesity if overconsumed. If going sugar free makes you avoid processed foods and drinks, great! Home cooking from scratch is healthier.

Two quotes from the 2016 Fed Up Roadshow

It's not the sugar, it's the processed foods:

"I lost 13 kg in 3 months when I started failsafe. I think it’s because of avoiding processed food (I do home cooking now) and also I went dairy free. My lifelong asthma also went away"

“I’ve been failsafe for 5 years. I’ve noticed that when lose weight on failsafe eating and gain weight if I go off it. Why? I think it’s due to the additives. I think they make you eat more ."

Read more

Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. Wolraich ML and others, N Engl J Med. 1994 Feb 3;330(5):301-7.
Children were put on additive-free diets and their behaviour improved. They were then challenged with hidden sugar or artificial sweetener. CONCLUSION: "Even when intake exceeds typical dietary levels, neither dietary sucrose nor aspartame affects children's behavior or cognitive function." http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199402033300501 

The effect of sugar on behavior or cognition in children. A meta-analysis. Wolraich ML and others , JAMA. 1995 Nov 22-29;274(20):1617-21.
CONCLUSION: Results from 16 double-blind placebo-controlled studies found that "sugar does not affect the behavior or cognitive performance of children" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7474248 

Is obesity development associated with dietary sugar intake in the U.S.? Song WO and others, Nutrition. 2012 ;28(11-12):1137-41.
CONCLUSION: Quotes from the abstract: “In the public health arena, a single component of total dietary intake, such as sugar intake, has been questioned as the health risk of obesity. This study aimed to investigate if the uptrend of obesity prevalence in the USA is associated with dietary sugar intake when other dietary intakes are controlled … From 1970 through 1990, the contribution of sugars to total carbohydrate intake decreased in the 1 to 18 y and over 19 y groups, and the contribution of added sugars to the total energy intake did not change …  total sugar intake (was) a non-predictor for body mass index in the 1 to 18 y and 19 y age subgroups. Daily energy intake was positively predicted by carbohydrate and fat intakes but not with total and added sugar intakes in the two age subgroups … CONCLUSION: Energy intake was the primary contributor to body mass index in all age groups in this study. The major energy sources of children and adolescents differed from those of adults. The implicated associations between energy and macronutrient intakes indicate that keeping energy balance is the primary strategy to avoid obesity.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22817826 

Introduction to Food Intolerance