Does Fructose Affect Children's Behavior?

Often a child’s conduct is blamed on her environment, poor parenting or illness. However, in some cases, behavior can be linked to foods containing fructose, a sugar that is often used in the processing and manufacturing of your children’s foods. It can wreak havoc with kids' diets, weight and their behavior. One of the most common derivatives produced from fructose is high-fructose corn syrup.


Fructose can be found in any number of foods naturally and man-made. Sometimes called fruit sugar, fructose is naturally in honey, some root vegetables and fruits such as:

  • apples
  • pears
  • berries
  • melons

Fructose is also be man-made. It is used in many processed foods as a sweetening agent. Princeton University notes that 240,000 tonnes of crystalline fructose are produced each year. Much of this goes into the manufacturing of high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose and its products are at the forefront of much controversy involving children's health issues, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times 1.

Fructose Intolerance

Fructose intolerance is a hereditary disease where your child is unable to break down the fructose in his body due to a missing enzyme. This intolerance develops in infancy once your child begins eating formula or food and continues throughout her lifetime. Symptoms caused by the fructose can be behavioral in nature and include irritability, convulsions and excessive sleepiness, as per the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Fructose and Mercury

Dietary factors and the toxic contaminants the foods are exposed to have a prominent affect on behavior. A 2009 article on the website Behavioral and Brain Functions shows that mercury contamination during the manufacturing of high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavior disorders, learning disabilities and have an impact on kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It also notes that consumption of high-fructose corn syrup can cause a zinc deficiency in your child. Zinc is necessary for your child to eliminate mercury from her body.


A food allergy in your child can cause alarming reactions 2. Most parents think of these immune responses strictly as physical, such as:

  • hives
  • swelling
  • itching
  • diarrhea
  • congestion

However, if your child is allergic to a food or the ingredients in them, these reactions can manifest as behavioral issues. states that 6 to 8 percent of kids under the age of 5 have food allergies 2. If your child has a corn allergy, high-fructose corn syrup may cause depression, fatigue, memory loss and aggressive behavior.