Some people claim that eating sugar (such as sucrose), aspartame (NutraSweet), and artificial flavors and colors lead to hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children. They argue that children should follow a diet that limits these substances.
Activity levels in children vary with their age. A 2-year old is usually more active, and has a shorter attention span, than a 10 year old.
A child's attention level also will vary depending on his or her interest in an activity. Adults may view the child’s level of activity differently depending on the situation. For example, an active child at the playground may OK. However, a lot of activity late at night may be viewed as a problem.
In some cases, a special diet of foods without artificial flavors or colors works for a child, because the family and the child interact in a different way when the child eliminates these foods. These changes, not the diet itself, may improve the behavior and activity level.
Refined (processed) sugars may have some effect on children's activity. Refined sugars and carbohydrates enter the bloodstream quickly. Therefore, they cause rapid changes in blood sugar levels. This may make a child become more active.
Several studies have shown a link between artificial colorings and hyperactivity. On the other hand, other studies do not show any effect. This issue is yet to be decided.