Artificial food coloring and preservatives added to common foods have been found to increase hyperactivity in children, according to a new study in the Lancet medical journal.
In this landmark study, 153 three year-olds and 144 eight year-olds were given fruit drinks with different amounts of additives over a six-week period. Both age groups showed significantly higher hyperactivity scores after consuming drinks with the same amount of food coloring that would be found in two 56-gram bags of candy. Children who drank a placebo drink did not show increased hyperactivity. None of the children had a history of hyperactive disorders.
This study has prompted the British Food Standards Agency to issue a statement warning parents to cut foods containing artificial coloring from their children's diet. Health Canada is reviewing the study before making any recommendations to Canadian parents.
The link between diet and hyperactivity in children has been debated for several decades. However, researchers have made no firm conclusions because of the difficulty of isolating the numerous food additives found in common foods.
Some of the additives studied include: sodium benzoate, various yellow food dyes and red food dye. In Canada, these additives are found in foods such as soft drinks, bubble gum, ice cream, fish sticks, yogurts and candy.
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