Despite speculation that sucrose consumption affects behavior, little empirical information is available. Accordingly, this study investigated the effect of sucrose consumption on the behavior of eight preschool children. Children were tested individually using a double-blind, crossover design. On separate mornings each child received 6 ounces of juice, sweetened on one morning with sucrose and on the other with an artificial sweetener. Children were observed for 90 minutes following the drinks, alternating between 15-minute sessions of work on structured tasks and 15-minute sessions of free play. Following the sucrose drink the children showed a decrement in performance in the structured testing situation, and they demonstrated more “inappropriate” behavior during free play. These differences in behavior were most pronounced approximately 45 to 60 minutes after the drinks. Thus, the study provides objective evidence in young children of a rather subtle, yet significant, time-dependent behavior effect of sucrose ingestion.
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This research was funded in part by grants from the General Research Grants Committee, University Hospital, Boston University Medical Center, and from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation. The project was conducted at the Clinical Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (National Institute of Health/General Clinical Research Center Grant 5M01-RR00088-20). We would like to express our appreciation to the many staff members of the Clinical Research Center for their extensive cooperation in helping us to plan and carry out this study, and to the director and staff of Technology Children's Center for their assistance in helping us to reach interested families. We also would like to thank the parents and children who participated in the study. Portions of this paper were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, August 1984.
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Goldman, J.A., Lerman, R.H., Contois, J.H. et al. Behavioral effects of sucrose on preschool children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 14, 565–577 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01260524
- Young Child
- Preschool Child
- Behavioral Effect
- Crossover Design