The effect of a sucrose challenge on aggressive behavior and sustained attention in a sample of young hyperactive boys and age-matched control subjects was studied at the Schneider Children’s Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New York, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York. The index group met DSM-III criteria for ADD-H and oppositional disorder as determined by interviews using the diagnostic interview for children and adolescents. They also scored at least 14 or above on the hyperkinesis index of parent and teacher revised questionnaires. Baseline testing was followed by a breakfast containing 8 oz of an orange colored and flavored drink containing either 35 g of sucrose or adjusted to equal sweetness with either saccharine (175 mg) or aspartame (175 mg). The sugar and placebo challenges were given with a breakfast high in carbohydrate. There were no significant effects of sugar or placebo on the aggressive behavior of either group. Inattention measured by a continuous performance task increased in the ADD-H group following sugar, but not with saccharine or aspartame control. [1]

COMMENT. A deterioration in attention following sugar ingestion has been reported in one other study by Connors et al. in which sugar was administered with a high carbohydrate breakfast. When a negative effect was observed in 3 other studies the sugar was given either in a fasting state or with a protein breakfast. Further studies are indicated.