HYPERACTIVITY IN KIDS AND FOOD
Food additives increase
hyperactivity in kids
7 September, 2007:
Some artificial food colorings and
other additives can worsen hyperactive
behavior in children, especially those
aged 3 to 9.
A research conducted by the Food
Standards Agency (FSA), the food
watchdog of the United Kingdom, has
warned all parents of a clear link
between additives and hyperactive
behavior in children.
In an article published in the medical
journal The Lancet, the FSA has
established the “deleterious effects”
of taking a mixture of artificial
extras that are added to drinks,
sweets, and processed foods.
The food watchdog has advised parents
who believe their children to be
hyperactive that they should cut out
foods containing the E numbers
analyzed in the study.
Scientists from the University of
Southampton, the United Kingdom, who
carried out research on over 300
children aged 3 to 8 believe that
their findings could have a
“substantial” impact on the regulation
of food additives in Britain. The
tests showed significant differences
in the children’s behavior when they
drank fruit drinks spiked with a
mixture of food colorings and
Jim Stevenson and colleagues at the
University of Southampton wrote in the
study: “These findings show that
adverse effects are not just seen in
children with extreme hyperactivity
(such as ADHD) but can also be seen in
the general population and across the
range of severities of hyperactivity.”
Stevenson’s team, which has been
studying the effects of food additives
in children for years, made up two
mixtures to test in one group of
3-year-olds and a second group of
children aged 8 and 9.
They included sunset-yellow colouring,
also known as E110; carmoisine, or
E122; tartrazine, or E102; ponceau 4R,
or E124; the preservative sodium
benzoate, or E211; and other colours.
One of the two mixtures contained
ingredients commonly drunk by young
British children in popular drinks.
The researchers, however, did not
specify what foods might include the
Both mixtures significantly affected
the older children. The 3-year-olds
were most affected by the mixture that
closely resembled the average intake
for children that age.
After consuming the drinks – a
cocktail of controversial E numbers
and the preservative sodium benzoate –
the children were found to become
boisterous and lose concentration.
They were unable to play with one toy
or complete one task, and they engaged
in unusually impulsive behavior.
The older group was unable to complete
a 15-minute computer exercise.
Dr Sue Baic, a dietitian at the
University of Bristol, said: “This is
a well-designed and potentially very
important study. It supports what
dietitians have known for a long time
– that feeding children on diets
largely consisting of heavily
processed foods, which may also be
high in fat, salt or sugar, is not
optimal for health.”