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Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Both dietary sucrose and the sweetener aspartame have been reported to produce hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.

METHODS

We conducted a double-blind controlled trial with two groups of children: 25 normal preschool children (3 to 5 years of age), and 23 school-age children (6 to 10 years) described by their parents as sensitive to sugar. The children and their families followed a different diet for each of three consecutive three-week periods. One diet was high in sucrose with no artificial sweeteners, another was low in sucrose and contained aspartame as a sweetener, and the third was low in sucrose and contained saccharin (placebo) as a sweetener. All the diets were essentially free of additives, artificial food coloring, and preservatives. The children's behavior and cognitive performance were evaluated weekly.

RESULTS

The preschool children ingested a mean (+/- SD) of 5600 +/- 2100 mg of sucrose per kilogram of body weight per day while on the sucrose diet, 38 +/- 13 mg of aspartame per kilogram per day while on the aspartame diet, and 12 +/- 4.5 mg of saccharin per kilogram per day while on the saccharin diet. The school-age children considered to be sensitive to sugar ingested 4500 +/- 1200 mg of sucrose per kilogram, 32 +/- 8.9 mg of aspartame per kilogram, and 9.9 +/- 3.9 mg of saccharin per kilogram, respectively. For the children described as sugar-sensitive, there were no significant differences among the three diets in any of 39 behavioral and cognitive variables. For the preschool children, only 4 of the 31 measures differed significantly among the three diets, and there was no consistent pattern in the differences that were observed.

CONCLUSIONS

Even when intake exceeds typical dietary levels, neither dietary sucrose nor aspartame affects children's behavior or cognitive function.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

    , , , ,

    Source

    The New England journal of medicine 330:5 1994 Feb 03 pg 301-7

    MeSH

    Affect
    Aspartame
    Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
    Child
    Child Behavior
    Child, Preschool
    Cognition
    Dietary Carbohydrates
    Double-Blind Method
    Humans
    Sucrose

    Pub Type(s)

    Clinical Trial
    Journal Article
    Randomized Controlled Trial
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
    Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    8277950

    Citation

    Wolraich, M L., et al. "Effects of Diets High in Sucrose or Aspartame On the Behavior and Cognitive Performance of Children." The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 330, no. 5, 1994, pp. 301-7.
    Wolraich ML, Lindgren SD, Stumbo PJ, et al. Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. N Engl J Med. 1994;330(5):301-7.
    Wolraich, M. L., Lindgren, S. D., Stumbo, P. J., Stegink, L. D., Appelbaum, M. I., & Kiritsy, M. C. (1994). Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. The New England Journal of Medicine, 330(5), pp. 301-7.
    Wolraich ML, et al. Effects of Diets High in Sucrose or Aspartame On the Behavior and Cognitive Performance of Children. N Engl J Med. 1994 Feb 3;330(5):301-7. PubMed PMID: 8277950.
    * Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
    TY - JOUR T1 - Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. AU - Wolraich,M L, AU - Lindgren,S D, AU - Stumbo,P J, AU - Stegink,L D, AU - Appelbaum,M I, AU - Kiritsy,M C, PY - 1994/2/3/pubmed PY - 1994/2/3/medline PY - 1994/2/3/entrez SP - 301 EP - 7 JF - The New England journal of medicine JO - N. Engl. J. Med. VL - 330 IS - 5 N2 - BACKGROUND: Both dietary sucrose and the sweetener aspartame have been reported to produce hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children. METHODS: We conducted a double-blind controlled trial with two groups of children: 25 normal preschool children (3 to 5 years of age), and 23 school-age children (6 to 10 years) described by their parents as sensitive to sugar. The children and their families followed a different diet for each of three consecutive three-week periods. One diet was high in sucrose with no artificial sweeteners, another was low in sucrose and contained aspartame as a sweetener, and the third was low in sucrose and contained saccharin (placebo) as a sweetener. All the diets were essentially free of additives, artificial food coloring, and preservatives. The children's behavior and cognitive performance were evaluated weekly. RESULTS: The preschool children ingested a mean (+/- SD) of 5600 +/- 2100 mg of sucrose per kilogram of body weight per day while on the sucrose diet, 38 +/- 13 mg of aspartame per kilogram per day while on the aspartame diet, and 12 +/- 4.5 mg of saccharin per kilogram per day while on the saccharin diet. The school-age children considered to be sensitive to sugar ingested 4500 +/- 1200 mg of sucrose per kilogram, 32 +/- 8.9 mg of aspartame per kilogram, and 9.9 +/- 3.9 mg of saccharin per kilogram, respectively. For the children described as sugar-sensitive, there were no significant differences among the three diets in any of 39 behavioral and cognitive variables. For the preschool children, only 4 of the 31 measures differed significantly among the three diets, and there was no consistent pattern in the differences that were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Even when intake exceeds typical dietary levels, neither dietary sucrose nor aspartame affects children's behavior or cognitive function. SN - 0028-4793 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/8277950/full_citation L2 - https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJM199402033300501?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -