Food Additives May Make Kids Hyper
Artificial Colors, Additives Boost Hyperactive Behavior in Toddlers and Children, Study Shows
Perspective and Reaction continued...
More than 30 years ago, a physician named Ben Feingold proposed a diet free
of additives and other substances to calm behavior in children.
The U.K. study findings about the adverse effects of food additives are
narrower than those found by Feingold, Stevenson tells WebMD. "Feingold
made a very wide-ranging claim about many additives and also salicylates (a
group of chemicals related to aspirin but also found in foods) adversely
affecting children's behavior," he says. "We have shown an
adverse effect for a specific set of food colors plus sodium benzoate, a
While the most recent study has found a link, Clemens contends that "the
totality of the evidence indicates food additives, such as those cited in the
[Lancet] paper, do not contribute to hyperactivity. While this study
finds a link, most recent studies do not."
Stevenson disagrees. "The better studies conducted since the mid-1980s
confirm that the removal of certain food additives can reduce hyperactivity in
children diagnosed with ADHD," he tells WebMD.
Children's reactions to diet do vary, Clemens tells WebMD, and some children
may react to additives and colors.
What's a Parent to Do?
Is it worth trying to remove the additives from a child's diet? "It may
not hurt, but it may not help," Clemens says.
Meanwhile, the U.K. Food Standards Agency issued new advice after the study
was published, advising parents of children who show signs of hyperactivity to
cut out the additives studied in the recent research.
Changing the diet is not a cure-all, Stevenson says.