The results of the global education test have politicians blaming each other, and others are suggesting that busy parents are at fault. While experts are scratching their heads over our low academic performance, they may have missed the most obvious explanation.

I have been expecting to see a downward trend in academic performance for a while, and I think it will only get worse, a lot worse, unless we are prepared to make a huge change. Sure, if our children read more books, and watched less TV, then maybe they would be better readers. But is it possible that they don’t want to read, because it is too hard. Is it possible that just like overweight people don’t feel like exercising, children struggling with cognitive skills don’t feel like reading?

And why would they be struggling cognitively?

I hate to be blunt, but excess sugar can makes us dumb!. And, Australians ingest tons of the stuff. In the early 1800s, we consumed less than 4 tsp of sugar per day (including natural sugar). We now ingest between 30 and 50 tsp a day!

A new Australian study released in September shows that people in the higher range of normal blood glucose levels are suffering from brain atrophy.

Researchers have known for years that those with diabetes suffer from diminished brain function, but they were surprised that those in the high end of the ‘normal’ range suffer from a loss of memory and cognitive skills.

Dr Cherbuin said that the “findings may lead us to re-evaluate the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes”.

Here is the abstract of the study. This is a subject that I discuss in both my books. A special school in the U.S. discovered that when children consumed sugary foods, their IQ dropped significantly.

As Patricia Hardman, Ph.D, says, “We had one child who was tested for his I.Q. and scored 140. Three days later he was tested and scored 100! It turned out that grandma had come for a visit and, that morning, had made the child pancakes for breakfast. Of course, they were smothered in sugary syrup. We waited another three days without sugar and tested him again. Sure enough, he scored 140. There’s no doubt about it. Sugar makes children poor learners.”

This school eliminates sugar from the diet of all children who attend.

My daughter has also experienced this first-hand. Every year she has taken the Naplan test, she achieved well above average in almost every area; with one exception. One year, she received a very average result. We were both looking at the results and pondering the big change. Then Anna had a light bulb moment. She realised that she and her friend both ate lollies the day of the test. For a child who doesn’t regularly consume sugar, the difference was quite remarkable.

When Anna was 11 she said, “I don’t eat sugar because it really affects my body, and I really want to have a good education. But, sugar ruins that. I used to eat lots of sugar at school every day, but I didn’t get it from home, I got it from my friends at school. Normally in Naplan, I have an above average outcome, but one day when we were doing Naplan, my friend bought a big packet of jelly beans to school. We ate quite a few before our Naplan test, and during, and my results turned out average. Now I kind of find sugar disgusting. Now that I know what it does to my body, it doesn’t make me want to eat it anymore.”

Imagine the huge academic disadvantage for those children consuming sugar daily. Most parents have been led to believe, through clever marketing and endorsement (from respected health organisations) that excess sugar intake is harmless. I don’t believe it is. And our children could be paying the price. I believe one of the best things I did for my children was dramatically reduce their sugar intake.

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