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Food coloring and ADHD -- no known link, but wider safety issues remain: UMD researcher
Date:6/14/2011

debate has itself been colored by weak science and strong emotional beliefs," Chronis-Tuscano says.

"My concern as a clinician is that the belief held by many parents that diets eliminating all food additives can cure ADHD often delays or prevents them from getting treatments for their children that are backed by strong scientific evidence - behavior therapy, stimulant medication, or their combination. The earlier such treatment begins the better. Going down the wrong path wastes resources and, most critically, precious time in the life of a child."

Yet, Chronis-Tuscano says she learned three things through her participation in the FDA hearing that "concern me both as a scientist and parent of two young children."

  • Food coloring is overrepresented in products designed to be attractive to children;
  • FDA has no specific data on food coloring consumption for particular subgroups in the U.S., including children;
  • Committee experts pointed out that appropriate toxicology studies have not been conducted to determine the effects of these additives on developing brains at different ages.

"Despite the limited science, the UK and other European nations have required manufacturers to include warning labels - a step that may discourage the use of these additives in foods, especially those intended for children. After all, these dyes are purely aesthetic and can be replaced by natural coloring," Chronis-Tuscano notes.

"Even if the evidence does not currently warrant FDA action, parents and consumers can still act," she concludes.

"Although I have no plans to put my family on any type of elimination diet, since my experience on the panel, I've become more attuned to food labels. Interestingly, more than 90 percent of the food coloring I found in my own pantry was in my children's vitamins, medication, and toothpaste.

"A more comprehensive scientific answer to the effects of food coloring additives on
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Contact: Neil Tickner
ntickner@umd.edu
301-405-4622
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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