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The hyperactive breakfast.

The hyperactive breakfast

A number of studies have suggested that sugar consumption does not lead to a worsening of hyperactive behaviors. But a carbohydrate-rich breakfast combined with a dose of sugar appears to have a harmful effect on hyperactive children, say C. Keith Connors and his colleagues at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

The researchers examined 39 hyperactive youngsters and 44 controls with no psychiatric diagnoses, all of whom were between 8 and 13 years of age. Each child was randomly assigned to one of three breakfast conditions: high carbohydrate (two slices of buttered and toasted white bread), high protein (two eggs scrambled in butter) or fasting. On separate days, children in each group also received a nonnutritive orange drink sweetened with aspartame or sucrose. Blood samples were taken just before and up to 4 hours after the meals. In addition, subjects completed a short test at 30 minutes, 2 hours and 4 hours after breakfast. In the test, letters and forms were presented one at a time, and each child was to identify when two items occurred in a row.

When hyperactives consumed the carbohydrate breakfast and sucrose drink, their failure to identify pairs of items increased significantly compared with that of controls. Under other conditions, there was no hyperactive deficit. In fact, hyperactives given the protein meal did substantially better than controls who ate the same meal and hyperactives in the carbohydrate and fasting conditions. In addition, hyperactives given the carbohydrate-sugar meal had a markedly greater rise in blood sugar than the other groups. All of the hyperactives had elevated blood-sugar levels before eating breakfast.

The researchers propose that hyperactive children may be more sensitive to increases in serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain, brought about by the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar. Sudden surges of serotonin may also throw off-kilter related chemical messengers, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, they add. Protein, on the other hand, tends to increase levels of amino acids that help to block the effects of sucrose on brain serotonin.

The practical implication, say the investigators, is that parents should make sure hyperactive children eat breakfast and that some level of protein is included in that meal.
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Title Annotation:carbohydrate-rich breakfast combined with a dose of sugar appears to have harmful effect on hyperactive children
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 12, 1987
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