Study makes first link between colorings, preservatives and behavioral woes
THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Some common food colorings and preservatives appear to increase the risk of hyperactive behavior among children, British researchers report.
The link between food additives and hyperactivity has long been suspected, but this is the first study to show a direct connection.
The findings have already caused the British government's Food Standards Agency, which funded the study, to issue a warning to parents about food additives.
"Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an increasingly common problem, and theories abound to account for that," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "Among them is the notion that food additives induce hyperactivity."
Despite this apparent connection, Katz cautioned that the increasing number of children with ADHD cannot be blamed on food additives alone.
"No one factor is solely responsible for rising rates of ADHD," Katz said. "Along with the hazards of a highly processed food supply, children are getting less and less physical activity as a means of dissipating their native rambunctiousness."
In the study, Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton, and his colleagues gave drinks containing additives to 297 children. The children were in two groups: 3-year-olds and 8- and 9-year-olds. The drinks contained artificial food coloring and additives such as sodium benzoate, a preservative.
These concoctions were similar to the drinks that are commercially available. The amount of additives were also similar to what is found in one or two servings of candy a day, according to the report.
As a control, some children were given drinks without additives, according to the report in the Sept. 6 issue of The Lancet.
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