A recent study found that artificial food coloring and preservatives commonly found in kid-favorite foods can increase hyperactivity and disruptive behavior. Conversely, avoiding food additives can lower the risk of hyperactivity and disruptive behaviors in children.
This UK study incorporated 298 children who consume one of three fruit drinks:
- Mix A contained artificial food coloring.
- Mix B contained artificial food coloring and the preservative sodium benzoate.
- Mix C was a placebo drink with no artificial coloring or preservatives.
The food colorings used were: tartrazine (a synthetic lemon yellow dye), sunset yellow, carmoisine (a synthetic red dye), and ponceau (a synthetic red dye). Researchers measured behavior based on parent and teacher ratings along with computerized tests that measured attention spans.
The results ...
- Children who consumed Mix A had significantly increased hyperactivity compared to the placebo group (Mix C).
- Children who consumed Mix B had significantly increased hyperactivity compared to the placebo group (Mix C).
Researchers also noted that increased hyperactivity also increased educational difficulties, especially in relation to reading. Study authors wrote, "This study provides evidence of deleterious effects of (artificial food colours and additives) on children's behaviour."
This study found that food additives and preservatives negatively affected all children who experience trouble with inattention, impulsivity, and overactivity and not just those diagnosed as ADHD.