It has been reported that an estimated 300,000 tons of candy were shipped by candy makers for Halloween consumption. The National Retail Federation reported that $3 billion would be spent on just candy.
The largest candy maker in the US today is Mars Co in Chicago. In the mid-1800s there were more than 400 factories making candy in the US. One astute dentist/businessman/inventor named Dr. James Morrison noted the number of cavities in children’s teeth caused by sugar. So did he invent a product to counter the development of childhood cavities?
No, this dentist invented a product called Fairy Floss and introduced it to the world at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. In the 1920s Fairy Floss was renamed Cotton Candy.
How Long Does a Candy Stash Last
Most Halloween candy stashes are consumed within a week. The candy calories consumed per child in terms of just sugar is 3 – 4 cups or about 7,000 calories.
Could that much sugar cause a kid to have a sugar high?
Sugar highs are based on vintage 1920s unscientific assumptions of a connection between sugar consumption and childhood hyperactivity. From then until now there is no scientific proof establishing such a connection.
However, there is a book published in 1985 and written by Dr. Ben F. Feingold titled “Why your Child is Hyperactive ” and referenced by some authors as claiming that Dr. Feingold proposed a connection between sugar consumption and childhood hyperactivity.
The truth is though, Dr. Feingold taught us that some children are genetically predisposed to hyperactive behavior caused by allergic reactions to food additives and artificial dyes. He did not propose a sugar/hyperactivity biological connection.
“Sugar high” suggests the blood level of glucose is high — that is a condition known as hyperglycemia. Consumption of sugar (glucose) triggers an increase in insulin production. Insulin is produced in the pancreas. It is a hormone that, under normal circumstances, helps maintain normal blood glucose levels by moving excess glucose to cells for storage and later use as an energy source (or to just be worn as fat).
Thirty-one different studies were done to examine the effect of carbohydrate consumption on mood and energy. A combined analysis (meta-analysis) of these studies led to the conclusion that “there was no effect of carbohydrate consumption on mood or energy.” There was no evidence of hyperactivity.
To investigate the “Effects of Diets High in Sucrose or Aspartame on the Behavior and Cognitive Performance of Children,” a study was conducted and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994.
The conclusion was “this carefully controlled nine-week study (demonstrated) that neither sucrose nor aspartame produces discernible cognitive or behavioral effects in normal preschool children or in school-age children believed to be sensitive.”
Sugar High Is An Urban Myth
The notion of “sugar high” is referred to in the literature as an urban myth. In a group gathering, it is not unusual for some children to be rowdy without consuming sugar. And rowdy behavior begets more rowdy behavior from otherwise well-mannered children.
So What is The Recommended Consumption Level
Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar daily. That is 36 grams or 150 calories. A container the size of your thumb would hold about 40 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar. That is 25 grams or 100 calories.
By the way, to work off the 40 calories in just one can of soda you need to walk about 12 miles.
According to dietician Emer Delaney at (bbcgoodfood.com) the recommended sugar intake per day for children is:
- Four to six years old – 19g (5 teaspoons)
- Seven to 10 years – 24g (6 teaspoons)
- From 11 years – 30g (7 teaspoons)
- For children under four years of age, there is no guideline limit, but it is recommended that they avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and foods with added sugar.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reported that between 2001 and 2004 the average American consumed about 22 teaspoons of sugar daily. At 16 calories per gram that calculates to 208 excess calories every day to be stored as body fat by an average female. In one year, that amounts to nearly 22 pounds of excess weight.
Aside from adding to body weight and being bad for your teeth, sugar can lead to gallstones, appendicitis, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, allergies, poor protein absorption, obesity, and other maladies over time.
So while science says that there is no such phenomenon as a sugar high, many moms whose children tend to be rowdy no matter what they ate, will disagree. And the urban legend will live on.