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Junk Food And Children’s Behaviour

Junk Food And Children's Behaviour

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There are plenty of reasons not to feed children junk food too often, but is bad behaviour one of them?

Research on the subject has led towards the conclusion that junk food – i.e. foods with high levels of sugar or saturated fats with little nutritional value – does indeed have an effect on the behaviour of children. Different foods can affect kids in different ways, but as far as junk food goes, none of the effects are particularly complimentary.


You’ve probably heard of E numbers in foods. These are a certain kind of additives often used in food and drink aimed at children. Back in 2007 research commissioned by the government’s Food Standards Agency, showed that these additives can cause hyperactivity in children. Manufacturers are now required to put a warning on the packaging of any product that contains these chemicals. However, an investigation by the Food Commission found that not all companies comply with these rules.


Many parents will have dealt with the aftermath of a sugar rush. Refined sugars, which can be found in fizzy juice, puddings and even white bread, are fast to enter the bloodstream and cause levels of blood sugar to rise quickly. This sugar high can cause children to become disruptive and lose concentration quickly.


Junk Food And Children's BehaviourThere is also evidence to suggest that eating too much junk food may lead to cravings for more junk. A study published in The New York Times in 2013, claims carbohydrates found in everything from sweets to fizzy drinks can stimulate the area of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. This means that children will learn to crave the feelings they get from junk and will opt for that, rather than reaching for a piece of fruit or another healthy snack.

Mental Health

A 2013 study by researchers at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia found that kids who regularly eat foods containing a high level of salt, sugar and fat were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and mood swings. The results showed that young children who ate lots of highly processed foods or who didn’t gain enough nutrients from healthy foods, displayed ‘concerning behaviours’. Interestingly, the study showed that the mother’s diet while pregnant also had an effect on her child’s mental health.


Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing your child junk food or sugary drinks now and again, but these should be kept for a treat rather than something they consume too regularly. As well as being better for your child’s health, avoiding letting your child eat too much junk can make your own life a whole lot easier, as you won’t have to deal with the difficult behaviour it might produce.







About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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