Food Coloring, Preservatives, Artificial Sweeteners and ADHD
Researcher have had almost 40 years to look at the connection between ADHD and food additives and have concluded that, in some children, food additives worsen ADHD behaviors. A major study published in Lancet in 2007 reported that both 3 year olds and 8/9 year old fed a diet with artificial colors and the preservative sodium benzoate had worse scores of behavior and attention tests. Dr. D. McCann, the lead researcher in the Lancet study reported the following; "Artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population."
No one understands exactly how or why the food additives or preservatives are adversely affecting behavior but the British government was impressed enough with the Lancet study findings to ask manufacturers to remove certain food coloring and preservatives from foods sold in Great Britain. The food dyes in question are: U.S. certified color Red #40, Blue #2, Yellow #5 (Tartrazine), Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow), as well as sodium benzoate.
It is estimated that 5% to 30% of children will have a reaction to food dyes or preservatives. It is unclear if this is an allergic reaction or some other type of interaction. I suppose that certain dyes and preservatives can somehow interact with our own individual chemistry to produce attention and hyperactivity problems but the science behind why these 5-30 percent of children have these reactions is just not available
The only way to know if your child is one of the children that will have a reaction to the dyes or preservatives is to eliminate them and see how it goes. Eliminating the dyes and the sodium benzoate is different than the Feingold diet. The Feingold diet recommends eliminating many other things including problematic foods for some allergic people such as milk and wheat. You start with a very basic diet and then you slowly introduce other foods slowly while making certain that they are not causing a reaction in your child.
It takes a fair amount of time and commitment to go through the process of eliminating all the offending possibilities from your diet but I will post about how it is done in my next post.
Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial; McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, Crumpler D, Dalen L, Grimshaw K, Kitchin E, Lok K, Porteous L, Prince E, Sonuga-Barke E,Warner JO, Stevenson J.; Lancet, November 2007