Effects of Sugar Ingestion on the Classroom and Playgroup Behavior of Attention Deficit Disordered Boys


In order to assess the effects of sugar ingestion on the behavior and academic performance of attention deficit disordered (ADD) boys, an investigation was undertaken employing a challenge design. The boys fasted overnight and then received in the morning a challenge drink containing either 1.75 gm/kg sucrose or a placebo (aspartame) of comparable sweetness. The study was run over the course of four days of a day treatment program, with the boys randomly receiving sugar and placebo on two days each. Dependent variables consisted of measures of classroom behavior, academic productivity and accuracy, noncompliance with adult requests, as well as positive and negative peer interactions. The results offered no support for the contention that sugar ingestion adversely affects the behavior or learning of ADD boys. Limitations of the present study, including the dosage of sugar employed and the use of concurrent interventions, were discussed. A hypothesis is offered to explain why research has consistently failed to find a challenge effect of sugar on behavior in ADD children despite the widespread beliefs to the contrary.

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