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Hyperactivity can be described as a physical state in which a person is abnormally and easily excitable or exuberant. Strong emotional reactions, impulsive behavior, and sometimes a short span of attention are also typical for a hyperactive person. Some individuals may show these characteristics naturally, as personality differs from person to person. Nonetheless, when hyperactivity starts to become a problem for the person or others, it may be classified as a medical disorder. The slang term "hyper" is used to describe someone who is in a hyperactive state.


There has been a great deal of focus on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as a cause of hyperactivity. Other conditions can cause it as well. Normal young children can be very lively and may or may not have short attention spans. Normal teenagers can also appear hyperactive; puberty can cause it. Children who are bored, are suffering from mental conflict, or are having problems at home — which may even include sexual abuse — can be hyperactive. The disorder has a large range of effects on children. Some have learning disabilities, while others may be very gifted, or both.

Hyperactivity can also occur because of problems with hearing or vision. Overactive thyroid, lead poisoning, atypical depression, mania, anxiety, sleep deprivation and a range of psychiatric illnesses are some of the potential causes.

Sugar consumption

A common belief is that eating too much sugar will make a person hyperactive. This belief is especially prevalent amongst parents and teachers who claim that children's behavior often gets more rowdy, excited and energetic after they eat too many sugary foods and drinks (such as chocolates/sweets or soft drinks). One particular study found that the perception by parents regarding their children's hyperactivity depended on their belief as to whether they had been given sugar.[1] The majority of studies show no connection between sugar and hyperactivity.[2]

Studies on other dietary causes

In two studies published in 2004 and 2007, researchers from Southampton University suggested that a statistically significant increase in the hyperactivity of children occurred after they consumed common artificial food colours and additives from fruit drinks.[3][4] The list of compounds used in the two studies included a preservative commonly used in beverages, sodium benzoate, and six color additives used in foods: tartrazine, quinoline yellow, sunset yellow, carmoisine and allura red.[clarification needed] On the basis of the 2007 report, The UK Food Standards Agency has revised its stance on these additives, informing parents of children that demonstrate hyperactive behaviour that removal of foods containing the six additives from their diet may have beneficial results on behaviour.[5] The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to review the 2007 study that asserted a link between consumption of artificial food colours and the observation of hyperactive behaviour in children. EFSA invited a number of experts in behaviour, child psychiatry, allergenicity and statistical analysis to provide input to the EFSA Panel on Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food. In a press release[6] from March 2008, EFSA indicated that, in their view, the 2007 study provided only limited evidence of an association between the intake of the mixture of additives and activity and attention, and then only in some children studied. They further indicated that the effects that were reported in the study were not consistent for the two age groups and the two food additive mixtures.

Other studies have recommended the Feingold Diet which eliminates several synthetic colors, synthetic flavors, synthetic preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Scientific studies have shown mixed results in double blind studies of the diet.[7] A 1983 publication in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggested that administration of the Feingold diet produced very minimal behavioural alterations in hyperactive children.[8]

Complicating Factors

Other studies point to synthetic preservatives and artificial coloring agents aggravating ADD & ADHD symptoms in those affected.[9][unreliable source?] Older studies were inconclusive quite possibly due to inadequate clinical methods of measuring offending behavior.[neutrality is disputed] Parental reports were more accurate indicators of the presence of additives than clinical tests.[10][Need quotation to verify] Two studies show academic performance increased and disciplinary problems decreased in large non-ADD student populations when artificial ingredients were eliminated from school food programs.[11][unreliable source?][12]

See also


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External links


cs:Hyperaktivita de:Hyperaktivität no:Hyperaktivitet ro:Hiperactivitate ru:Гиперактивность sr:Хиперактивност

tr:Aşırı aktivite
  1. Hoover, Daniel and Milich, Richard,1994.Effects of sugar ingestion expectancies on mother-child interactions.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22,501-515.
  2. Busting the sugar-hyperactivity myth CNN
  3. Schab DW, Trinh NH (2004). "Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials". Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. 25 (6): 423–34. doi:10.1097/00004703-200412000-00007. PMID 15613992. 
  4. Donna McCann; et al. (2007). "Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial". The Lancet. in press. 
  5. Food Standards Agency
  6. European Food Safety Authority
  7. Krummel DA, Seligson FH, Guthrie HA (1996). "Hyperactivity: is candy causal?". Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition. 36 (1-2): 31–47. doi:10.1080/10408399609527717. PMID 8747098. 
  8. Lipton MA, Mayo JP. Diet and hyperkinesis: An update. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 83:132134, 1983.
  9. 1997 Graduate Student Research Project conducted at the University of South Florida. Author- Richard W. Pressinger M.Ed.
  10. "Food Additives May Affect Kids' Hyperactivity". WebMD Medical News. May 24, 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  11. A different kind of school lunch", Pure Facts, October 2002
  12. The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools, Schoenthaler SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA, Int J Biosocial Res., 1986, 8(2); 185-195