Artificial food colourings and benzoate preservatives increase hyperactive behaviour in preschool children, according to a new report.
Despite claims about the detrimental behavioural effects of artificial food colourings and preservatives, there have been no broad studies of the prevalence of hyperactivity related to intolerance to food additives.
Researchers from Southampton General Hospital, UK, studied the impact of artificial food colourings and benzoate preservatives on the behaviour of 277 preschool children. At the start, 36 children had hyperactivity and allergies, 75 were only hyperactive, 79 had only allergies, and 87 did not have either condition.
Parents' ratings of their children's hyperactivity fell after withdrawal of food additives from the children's diets, and there was an increase in hyperactivity when food additives were re-introduced. Parental hyperactivity ratings increased significantly when children were exposed to food additives regardless of their hyperactivity status or the presence of allergies at the start of the study.
New research will be based in schools and pre-schools in Southampton to involve 4- and 9-year-olds.
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