Sugar and Behavior

  • Robin B. Kanarek
  • Robin Marks-Kaufman


Of the many components in our diets, none has been condemned as frequently and as vehemently as sugar. Studies reviewed by the federal government indicate that after salt and sodium, sugar is the food ingredient people most consistently want to avoid and the one they look for most often on a food label’s list of ingredients (Lecos 1980, 1988). In recent years, the use of sugars in the diet has become an extremely controversial issue involving scientists, dietitians, physicians, government officials, and private citizens. Sugar has been blamed, although in some cases wrongly, for a myriad of ills including obesity, diabetes, dental disease, and behavioral disorders. Modern attitudes toward sugar have led some to conclude that our society suffers from “saccrophobia” or the fear or sugar (Fischler 1987).


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Oral Glucose Tolerance Test Antisocial Behavior Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Violent Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alfin-Slater, R. and F. X. PiSunyer. 1987. Sugar and sugar substitutes. Postgraduate Medicine 82: 47–56.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. 1987. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition Revised. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Beauchamp, G. K. and B. J. Cowart. 1987. Development of sweet taste, in Sweetness, edited by J. Dobbing, pp. 127–140. New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Behar, D., J. L. Rapoport, A. A. Adams, C. J. Berg, and M. Cornblath. 1984. Sugar challenge testing with children considered behaviorally “sugar reactive.” Nutrition and Behavior 1: 277–288.Google Scholar
  5. Bennett, F. C. and R. Sherman. 1983. Management of childhood “hyperactivity” by primary-care physicians. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 4: 88–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cahill, G. F. and J. S. Soeldner. 1974. A non-editorial on non-hypoglycemia. New England Journal of Medicine 291: 905–906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crapo, P. A. 1985. Simple versus complex carbohydrate in the diabetic diet. Annual Review of Nutrition 5: 95–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dahlqvist, A. 1984. Carbohydrates, in Present Knowledge in Nutrition, ed R. E. Olson et al., pp. 116–130. Washington, D.C.: Nutrition Foundation.Google Scholar
  9. Danowski, T. S. and J. H. Sunder. 1981. Sugar and disease, in Controversies in Nutrition, ed. L. Ellenbogen, pp. 85–104. New York: Churchill Livingston.Google Scholar
  10. Darby, W. J., P. Ghalioungui, and L. Grivetti. 1977. Food: The Gift of Osiris. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Drewnowski, A. 1988. Sweet foods and sweeteners in the U.S. diet, in Diet and Obesity, ed. G. A. Bray et al., pp. 153–161. Basel: S. Karger.Google Scholar
  12. Dufty, W. 1975. Sugar Blues, New York: Warner Books.Google Scholar
  13. Ferguson, H. B., Stoddart, C., and Simeon, J. G. 1986. Double-blind challenge studies of behavioral and cognitive effects of sucrose-aspartame ingestion in normal children. Nutrition Reviews 44 (Suppl.): 144–150.Google Scholar
  14. Fischler, C. 1987. Attitudes towards sugar and sweetness in historical and social perspective, in Sweetness, ed. J. Dobbing, pp. 83–98, New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Folsom, A. R., Jacobs, D. R., Luepker, R. B., Kushi, L. H., Guillum, R. F., Elmer, P. J., and Blackburn, H. 1987. Nutrient intake in a metropolitan area, 1973–74 vs 1980–82: The Minnesota heart survey. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 45: 1533–1540.Google Scholar
  16. Fomon, S. J., Ziegler, E. K., Nelson, S. E., and Edwards, B. B. 1983. Sweetness of diet and food consumption by infants. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 173: 190–193.Google Scholar
  17. Franz, M. J. and Maryniuk, M. D. 1987. Position of the American Dietetic Associa-tion: Appropriate use of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 87: 1689–1693.Google Scholar
  18. Gray, G. E. 1986. Diet, crime and delinquency: A critique. Nutrition Reviews 44 (Suppl.): 89–93.Google Scholar
  19. Gross, M. 1984. Effects of sucrose on hyperkinetic children. Pediatrics 74: 876–878.Google Scholar
  20. Hegarty, V. 1988. Decisions in Nutrition. St. Louis: Times Mirror/Mosby College Publishing.Google Scholar
  21. Hirsch, E. 1987. Sweetness and performance, in Sweetness, ed. J. Dobbing, pp. 205–224. New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kaplan, H. K., F. S. Wamboldt, and M. Barnhart. 1986. Behavioral effects of dietary sucrose in disturbed children. American Journal of Psychiatry 143: 944–945.Google Scholar
  23. Ketcham, K. and L. A. Mueller. 1983. Eating Right to Live Sober. New York: Signet.Google Scholar
  24. Kruesi, M. J. P., Rapoport, J. L., Cummings, M., Berg, C. J., Ismond, D. R., Flament, M., Yarrow, M., and Zahr-Waxier, C. 1987. Effects of sugar and aspartame on aggression and activity in children. American Journal of Psychiatry 144: 1487–1490.Google Scholar
  25. Lecos, C. W. 1980. Food labels and the sugar recognition factor. FDA Consumer April:3–5.Google Scholar
  26. Lecos, C. W. 1985. Sugar, how sweet it is—and isn’t. FDA Consumer February: 21–23.Google Scholar
  27. Lecos, C. W. 1988. We’re getting the message about diet-disease links. FDA Consumer May: 6–9.Google Scholar
  28. McFarland, K. F., Baker, C., and Ferguson, S. D. 1987. Demystifying hypoglycemia. Postgraduate Medicine 82: 54–65.Google Scholar
  29. McLoughlin, J. A. and M. Nail. 1988. Teacher opinion of the role of food allergy on school behavior and achievement. Annals of Allergy 61: 89–91.Google Scholar
  30. Milich, R. and W. E. Pelham. 1986. Effects of sugar ingestion on the classroom and playgroup behavior of attention-deficit-disordered boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 54: 714–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morgan, K. J. and M. E. Zabik. 1981. Amount and food sources of total sugar intake by children ages 5 to 12 years. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 34: 404–413.Google Scholar
  32. Nelson, R. L. 1985. Hypoglycemia: Fact or fiction? Mayo Clinic Proceedings 60: 844–850.Google Scholar
  33. Phelps, J. K. and Nourse, A. E. 1986. The Hidden Addicition and How to Get Free. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  34. Prinz, R. J., Roberts, W. A., and Hantman, E. 1980. Dietary correlates of hyperactive behavior in children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 48:760– 769.Google Scholar
  35. Ramirez, I. 1990. Why do sugars taste good? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 14: 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Robinson, C. H. and Lawler, M. R. 1982. Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  37. Rosen, L. E., M. E. Bender, S. Sorrel, S. R. Booth, M. L. McGrath, and R. S. Drabman. 1988. Effects of sugar (sucrose) on children’s behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 56: 583–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schoenthaler, S. J. 1982. The effect of sugar on the treatment and control of antisocial behavior: A double–blind study of an incarcerated juvenile population. International Journal of Biosocial Research 3: 1–9.Google Scholar
  39. Schoenthaler, S. J. 1983a. Diet and delinquency: A multi-state replication. International Journal of Biosocial Research 5: 70–78.Google Scholar
  40. Schoenthaler, S.J. 1983b. Diet and crime: An empirical examination of the value of nutrition in the control and treatment of incarcerated juvenile offenders. International Journal of Biosocial Research 4: 25–39.Google Scholar
  41. Schoenthaler, S. J. 1983c. The Los Angeles probation department diet-behavior program: An empirical analysis of six institutional settings. International Journal of Biosocial Research 5: 88–98.Google Scholar
  42. Schoenthaler, S.J. 1985. Nutritional policies and institutional antisocial behavior. Nutrition Today 20: 16–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Steiner, J. E. 1973. The gustofacial response: Observations of normal and anen- cephalic newborn infants, in Fourth Symposium on Oral Sensation and Perception: Development in the Fetus and Infant, ed. J. F. Bosma, pp. 254–278. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  44. Wolraich, M., Milich, R., Stumbo, P., and Schultz, F. 1985. Effects of sucrose ingestion on the behavior of hyperactive boys. Journal of Pediatrics 106: 675–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yager, J. and Young, R. T. 1974. Non-hypoglycemia is an epidemic condition. New England Journal of Medicine 291: 907–908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yudkin, J. 1964. Dietary fat and dietary sugar in relation to ischemic heart disease and diabetes. Lancet 2: 4–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yudkin, J. 1972. Sweet and Dangerous. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  48. Virkkunen, M. 1986. Reactive hypoglycemic tendency among habitually violent offenders. Nutrition Reviews 44 (Suppl.): 94–103.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Van Nostrand Reinhold 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin B. Kanarek
    • 1
  • Robin Marks-Kaufman
    • 1
  1. 1.Tufts UniversityMedfordUSA

Personalised recommendations