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Principal Says Banning Sugar Made Students Smarter
Jonathan Serrie
January 30, 2009

A suburban Atlanta school principal claims to have a simple solution to improve test scores, reduce discipline problems and improve student health: ban sugar.

"My personal health challenges inspired this," said Yvonne Sanders-Butler, who once suffered from obesity and severe high blood pressure.

For the past ten years, the now-trim principal has required students at Browns Mill Elementary in Lithonia to participate in daily physical exercise and eat healthy foods. Her school enforces a strict ban on sugar.

"I just think it's a great idea," said Kimberly Morcroft, who was politely turned away as she attempted to deliver cupcakes to the school in celebration of her daughter's 10th birthday. "She dropped a pant size just from last year to this one," Morcroft said, smiling at her daughter.

According to Butler, standardized test scores increased 15 percent at the school within the first year of the program. She said discipline problems decreased by 23 percent. Student health has improved and obesity at the school has been virtually eliminated.

"For me, it was not just about educating children about reading, writing and arithmetic," Butler said. "If these people were going to be successful, I had to ensure that they were going to be healthy."

Initially, Butler's sugar-free program faced resistance from skeptics who feared it would bust tight school budgets. The principal said she paid nutrition experts, who revamped the school cafeteria menu, out of her own pocket. And ordering the new food items in bulk ended up saving money.

"In nine years, we have saved $425,000," Butler said. "We've done that not by cutting back but actually by having more fruits and vegetables."

Seventeen other Atlanta-area schools have implemented the program, and Butler said she has received hundreds of calls from educators and health officials around the world wanting to learn more about her "sugar-free zone."

The program is even popular with students, who rave about carrots and cauliflower with the same enthusiasm children at other schools talk about cupcakes and candy bars.

"I love broccoli," said 5th grader Ryani Durham. "Most kids don't. But I'm one of those kids who loves broccoli."


I congratulate you on your efforts to remove "sugar" from your diet. Many don't truly appreciate how hard that is until they try to do it themselves. "Sugar," and by that I mean the refined stuff, in my mind should be thought of as a drug.
Regarding sweetener options:
1-The ideal is to wean your sweet tooth from the excessively sweet flavor of concentrated sweeteners of any sort, natural or otherwise. This just takes time. In time, after abandoning the concentrates, you will come to appreciate the sweetness of an apple or peach, etc.
2-Honey can vary dramatically. You want the raw kinds. Honey I believe can be thought of as much more than a sweetener, it is a legitimate super food. And be sure you don't heat it.
Also get to know the provider of the honey, some less than legit producers will actually feed their bees table sugar.
3-For the occasional addition of sweetness you can use Stevia. However, please note that we really don't know what the long term effects of consuming Stevia are so use only once in a while. Also try to find the purest Stevia you can. I had been using one brand that cut their Stevia with maltodextrin, only to come to the conclusion their malto contained MSG.

A friend has been studying the side effects of Aspartame as a sweetener and has suggested that I
use sugar instead. I do not use any artificial
sweetener in coffee, tea, or cereal that contains
Aspertame. I am now suspicious of SPLENDA with
it's Sucralose. Is there a safe sweetener other
than honey or is it still just liquid sugar? How
can we trust the Food and Drug Administration who
really missed the boat when some peanut butter that
was sent to Canada was sent back because of a putrid odor and unknown rotted debris to the Peanut Company who sent it and the FDA knew of the
shabby and unclean equiment in the factory but did

I am all for cutting out all sugar but keep looking for a safe and adequate sustitute.