This page was created in 2013 to bring together several ideas involving parental belief about sugar.
This website has for many years had information refuting the idea that sugar is addictive, or that sugar makes kids hyperactive. There are dozens of descriptions of kids choosing other foods over sugar when there's an array and sweets are as readily available as any other food.
Links to those are in the column to the right. Below is from a discussion from Radical Unschooling Info about *why* the belief is so prevalent.
"The ideas in my head weren't my own."
What makes so many erroneous beliefs tenacious is "variable reinforcement" - when something correlates only some of the time, people actually believe it harder and longer than if there's a clear relationship every single time. It's the root of superstition, and it's true of any creature with a brain - not just human nature, but animal nature. We're instinctively superstitious ;)
Angela Booth wrote:
I made a real effort to remember that unschooling is natural learning on the part of the learner, and that the experience of his relationship to sugar would just have to belong to him and sugar. Not to me and sugar.
There is a section on "Myths too many parents believe" about sugar, right up at the top.
Sugar as a scary substance, with stories of people whose beliefs changed dramatically.
Joyce Fetteroll brought an article to an unschooling discussion, and wrote:
The article focuses on why human children spend so many years small compared to other mammals. But the interesting part for unschoolers is"From about the age of four to puberty, the young brain guzzles glucose – the cerebral cortex, its largest part, uses nearly (or more than) double that used earlier or later in life. This creates a problem. A child’s body is a third of the size of an adult but its brain is nearly adult sized. Calculated as a share, a child’s takes up half of all the energy used by a child."Glucose in the bloodstream -- that all cells use as energy -- comes from simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex (starches). 4 to puberty is the big period when kids are most drawn to sugar and carbohydrates. (Capt. Crunch is like pure energy gold ;-) (It's also when their palates narrow too. So maybe there's a connection there too.)
Two stories of children completely deprived of sugar—of kids without choices
In 1972 or so I was living where we had one irrigated field, and rows of vegetables. We were keeping a 4 or 5 year old niece who was never allowed any sweets at all. With two adults and two older kids in the house, at one point we lost her. In a panic, people started looking everywhere she could be, and finally she was found in the garden between rows, with the bag of sugar from the pantry. It was about half of a 5 lb. bag. She had it on the ground, eating sugar by the handful as fast as she could.Here is a sugar story from 1992; I was childless, but it's my writing:
I took two little nieces to the zoo in the mid-'70s. They were hippie kids who had been raised in the country, in a sugar-free environment. The younger one acted nervous from time to time, and finally pointed at someone eating cotton candy and asked me softly, "Why are those people eating toilet paper?" I did the only educationally appropriate thing, and bought her some. The three of us together didn't finish it.