Does Sugar Rush Actually Exist?


Linda Zhang, Staff Writer

Due to a myth that has existed for centuries, many parents avoid giving their children an abundance of sweets out of fear that a period of hyperactivity might follow. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that our body breaks down to access immediate energy. By this logic, many believe that the more sugar one consumes, the more energy the body is going to create. 

“I avoid eating candies close to bedtime because I am afraid that it might disturb my sleep,” said Arcadia High School (AHS) freshman Alice Wang. 

Confirmed by studies done by Gerald Shuman, a professor of endocrinology and cellular and molecular physiology, at Yale School of Medicine, the sugar rush is indeed simply a myth. In recent years, due to the growth in the amount of sugar that an average American is consuming, more people demand to know what that sugar is actually doing to their bodies. So, studies from Medicine News Today explored the truth behind the sugar rush and if it is a driving force behind what lots of Americans struggle with, obesity. 

“Sugar makes me feel happy. When I’m happy, I feel energized,” said AHS freshman Han Phan. 

The experiment from Medicine News Today began with the researchers giving 31 healthy adults the same amount of sugar. Over different periods of time, the searches conducted changes in the subjects’ alertness, calmness, and tension. The experiment concluded that not only does sugar not contribute to a person’s alertness and a tendency of conducting hyperactivity, it in fact lowers their awareness, increasing their feelings of fatigue. The result of this experiment also explained how the growing percentage of obese Americans, as people often resort to consuming sugary items in hopes of making themselves feel more awake. What they aren’t aware of is that their consumption of sugar is making them feel more weary. Thus, they go back to consuming more sugar, repeating this health-damaging cycle. 

Being disproved by countless studies over the years, why does the concept of a sugar rush still exist? Parent expectancy plays a vital role in the behavior of children. During an experiment conducted by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35 boys between the ages of seven and eight were split into two groups. The researchers informed the mothers of each group that their sons were either given a placebo or a large dose of sugar when, in reality, all of the boys received a placebo. The mothers who thought their sons were given lots of sugar maintained physical closeness, criticized, and talked to their sons way more often than the control group’s mothers. In other words, the mothers’ negative reactions affected the children more than the children’s consumption of sugar did. 

In conclusion, the sugar rush is simply a false concept that has been reinforced to us by older generations, as well as from movies and television shows. In fact, many studies have shown that sugar consumption does just about the opposite of giving the person an energy boost. Therefore, the next time you’re feeling tired, a Snickers bar may be of little help. 


Photo by Faran Raufi