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January 26, 2001

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Nampa, Idaho, USA:

My three and one-half year old daughter seems to have an insatiable craving for sugar and carbohydrates. I can barely get her to eat anything besides spaghetti and macaroni. When she hasn't eaten for more than three hours, she is extremely agitated. Is it possible that my daughter has hypoglycemia?


Hypoglycemia is actually a very rare condition in children. It is not likely that the symptoms you are describing represent an urgent illness since a three year old child’s appetite can be extremely variable. I would encourage you to discuss any concerns you have with your daughter’s pediatrician.

Additional comments from Betty Brackenridge, diabetes dietitian:

I would also recommend the wonderful books: I would also recommend the wonderful books Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, and How to Get Your Kid to Eat but Not Too Much. They are both written by Ellyn Satter, a great pediatric dietitian who is also a psychosocial counselor. Understanding exactly what constitutes normal eating in youngsters at various points in their development can be very reassuring. Three year olds have their favorites – and carbohydrates are often on the list. Ms. Satter gives excellent, practical advice about how to manage food issues so that things turn out best for both parents and their chldren.