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I've heard numerous times that eating1 a high quantity of sugar will give you a "sugar high" or "sugar buzz"

The high one gets after consuming large amounts of sugar. Also called a "sugar rush." Sugar highs cause twitchiness, spasms, and hyper excitability. Sugar highs do not last very long, and leave a person feeling drained afterwards.
--source

Also, I've heard, that for the same reason, giving too much sugar to kids will make them hyperactive.

Hyperactivity may be caused by learning disability, an unstable home life, food allergy, food additives, excessive sugar ingestion, heavy metal toxicity, or even the need for glasses.
--source

This sounds like bogus to me. Is there any evidence on this claim, or is it just a urban myth?


1: Please assume non-diabetics

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Is is defined anywhere how high high quantity is? I once consumed around 750 g of sugar to test the myth out and none of the described events happened to me (there were problems related with consuming such amount of water absorbing crystals though, so I don't recommend it to anyone). –  AndrejaKo Mar 27 '11 at 19:33
    
I think you'd have to separate the scope of the inquiry into two: non-diabetics and diabetics. My guess would be the energy level of diabetics would definitely affected by sugar, whereas the energy level of a non-diabetic would remain pretty much the same. You also have to limit the amount, as anything in a large amount will have some sort of effect. For example, drinking too much water can kill you, etc. I doubt anyone can eat a cup of sugar without feeling some effect, but I don't think a tiny piece of candy has any effect other than perhaps a mental one. –  Michael Mar 27 '11 at 19:52
    
The scope is intended for the general public - the claim does not require the in-taker to be diabetic. –  Sklivvz Mar 27 '11 at 20:00
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2 Answers

up vote 35 down vote accepted

Here is a Washington Post article that also says "NO":

A stronger type of study is one in which no one--the kids, the parents, or the experimenter--knows whether the snack the child ate was sweetened with sugar or with aspartame. More than a dozen such studies have been conducted, and they show that sugar does not cause hyperactive behavior or behavior problems, even when the researchers make a point of testing kids whose parents say they are sensitive to sugar.

...

Sugar has also been tested for its impact on kids diagnosed with ADHD. Again, there seems to be no effect.

...

One interesting study examined the effect of parental expectation. Thirty-five boys (aged 5 to 7) who were reported by their mothers to be sugar sensitive were given a drink sweetened with aspartame. Half of the moms were told that the drink had a lot of sugar in it, and half were told it had none. Mothers and sons then interacted on several tasks (e.g., building a Lego house together). Moms who were told their children had had sugar later rated their sons’ behavior during this interaction as more hyperactive.

The bottom line:

There’s pretty good evidence that there is not a physiological effect of sugary snacks on kids’ behavior, and some of parent’s perception of an effect is probably just that--perception. But there could also be a psychological effect whereby sugary snacks are associated with other factors such as a less regulated atmosphere or kids’ perception of a less well regulated atmosphere.

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+1 for linking to studies –  Sklivvz Mar 28 '11 at 8:09
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Anecdotal evidence: I've grown up in Eastern Europe and nobody there has ever heard of a sugar rush or a sugar high. It's always puzzled me as I've never experienced anything like it myself. Now I know. Another bogus claim debunked. Thanks! –  romkyns Dec 20 '12 at 12:06
    
Other series of anecdotes: none of the people I know who had to do an oral glucose tolerance test where you get 75 g glucose (in 300 ml water) within 5 min. felt high... In case someone wants to do a study, there are plenty of candiates to recruit from these tests... –  cbeleites Jan 31 '13 at 0:54
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No says CNN. The amount of sugar that you tell the parent their child took does affect their perception of the child's activity level though.

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