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The Effects of Corn Syrup on Children's Behavior

author image Jennifer Byrne
Jennifer Byrne is a freelance writer and editor specializing in topics related to health care, fitness, science and more. She attended Rutgers University. Her writing has been published by KidsHealth.org, DietBlogTalk.com, Primary Care Optometry News, and EyeWorld Magazine. She was awarded the Gold Award from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE), 2007, and the Apex Award for Publication Excellence.
The Effects of Corn Syrup on Children's Behavior
Corn syrup in drinks and food may lead to hyperactivity and other behavioral changes in kids. Photo Credit Olga Sapegina/Hemera/Getty Images


As much as kids might enjoy the colorful fruit punches, snacks and sodas that contain corn syrup, parents might not love the effects this sweetener has on their kids. Recently, corn syrup, particularly high fructose corn syrup, has been a source of concern among parents and some experts. According to the Mayo Clinic, it has been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, corn syrup may have an effect on your child's behavior.


Hyperactivity is perhaps the most well-known possible behavioral effect of high fructose corn syrup and other sugars. According to the ADDitude website, corn syrup as well as corn sweetener and corn syrup solids are implicated in child hyperactivity. Although the sugar/hyperactivity connection is a source of some debate, ADDitude cited a study conducted at the University of South Carolina, which found that hyperactive children who consumed large amounts of sugar behaved in a more destructive and reckless manner.

Mercury-Related Behavior Changes

According to the Washington Post, a study conducted at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy identified detectable levels of mercury in nine out of 20 samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup. The effects of mercury in the diet are considerable, and include adverse behavioral effects, reports the HighFructoseCornSyrup website. This may include negative effects on memory, attention, language skills and fine motor skills. Mercury may also cause damage to the brain and nervous system, reports HighFructoseCornSyrup.

Allergy-Related Changes

For children who may have a food allergy to corn, the effects of corn syrup may take on a different form, reports the AskDr.Sears website. Corn is among the most allergenic foods, and an allergic reaction may manifest itself through behavioral issues. AskDr.Sears says that among the behavioral symptoms of allergic reactions are fatigue, crying, irritability, anxiety, night-waking and crankiness.

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