Possible banning of food additives in Britain—study shows they contribute to ADHD

Thanks to Sloopy, one of my readers and commenters, for the information about a study showing food additives causing ADHD in children:

The study involved one hundred and fifty three 3-year old and one hundred and forty four 8- to 9-year old children, selected to represent a broad range of behaviour in the general population including children with normal to high level behavioural activity. Children who were medicated for ADHD were not included. A global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA) score was the main outcome of the study, and this parameter was based on aggregated z-scores of observed behaviours and ratings by teachers, class room observers and parents, plus, for 8- to 9- year old children, a computerised test of attention.

Mix A containing Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124), Sunset Yellow FCF (E110), Carmoisine (E122) and sodium benzoate significantly increased GHA scores for all 3-year old children compared to the placebo control GHA scores (effect size 0.20 [CI 0.01 to 0.39], p<0.05).

Mix B containing Sunset Yellow FCF (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Quinoline Yellow (E104), Allura Red AC (E129) and sodium benzoate had no effect on GHA scores in 3-year old children as compared to the placebo control GHA scores (effect size 0.17 [CI -0.03 to 0.36]).

This result persisted when analysis was restricted to 3-year old children who consumed more than 85% of juice and had no missing data (complete case group); in this analysis the effect of Mix A in the 3-year old children was still significantly increased compared to placebo control (effect size 0.32 [CI 0.05 to 0.60, p<0.05) but for Mix B no significant effect on GHA scores was observed (effect size 0.21 [CI -0.06 to 0.48]).

For the 8- to 9- year old children a significant effect of Mix A (effect size 0.12 [CI 0.02 to 0.23], p<0.05) or Mix B (effect size 0.17 [CI 0.07 to 0.28], p<0.01) was seen when analysis was restricted to those children consuming at least 85% of drinks with no missing data (complete case group). When all 8- to 9- year old children that completed the study were taken into account, Mix A had no effect on the GHA scores compared to the placebo control (effect size 0.08 [CI -0.02 to 0.17]) and Mix B had a significant effect on GHA scores (effect size 0.12 [CI 0.03 to 0.22] p<0.05).

The authors concluded that exposure to synthetic colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year old and 8- to 9-year old children in the general population.

That quote is from a study in the first PDF file on at the bottom of the article about the banning of these substance on this page.

Further coverage on this story is here where the article states:

The researchers estimated that 30 per cent of cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) would be prevented if companies removed the colours used in the £13bn-a-year global additives industry.

The decision means the country’s biggest confectioners and supermarkets, such as Cadbury and Haribo, will have to reformulate hundreds of products including ice cream, sweets, milkshakes and fizzy drinks.

I think it might be wise to limit children’s access to ice cream, sweets, milkshakes and fizzy drinks in any case. Unfortunately that won’t probably happen. Granted the additives certainly make things worse, but junk food in general and sugar in particular have been shown to disrupt behavior in children as well.

Refined, processed foods of all types can, in general, be seen as culprits for poor mental health in children and adults as the nutritional content of such food is very bad and the additives on top of that are often toxic. A whole natural food diet as talked about here is important for everyone’s health, mental and physical. The old adage “we are what we eat” holds up under scrutiny.

The six colourings facing a ban (as well as Sodium Benzoate)

Tartrazine (E102)

Description: Synthetic yellow dye found in sweets, biscuits, mushy peas

Products: Disney Winnie the Pooh Cake Kit, Lidl orange jelly, Bacardi Breezer tropical lime, Asda mushy peas

Health effects: causes hyperactivity, linked to allergic reactions and migraine.

Quinoline Yellow (E104)

Description: Synthetic dye in sweets, pickles, smoked fish

Products: Aero orange, Galaxy Minstrels, M&Ms, Bassett’s Sherbet Lemons

Health effects: Causes hyperactivity and is linked to rashes. Banned in US.

Sunset Yellow (E110)

Description: synthetic yellowdye found in sweets, ice cream, fizzy drinks

Products: Cadbury Creme Egg, Haribo Jelly Beans, Irn-Bru

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and linked to stomach upsets and swelling of skin.

Carmoisine (E122)

Description: Synthetic red dye found in ready meals, sweets

Products: Love Hearts, Galaxy Minstrels, Cadbury Mini Eggs, various lollipops

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and is alleged to cause water retention in those allergic to aspirin. Banned in US.

Ponceau 4R (E124)

Description: synthetic red dye found in sweets, biscuits, drinks

Products: Bassett’s Pear Drops, Halls Blackcurrant Soothers, Supercook Alphabet Icing

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and is believed to cause problems for asthmatics. Banned in US.

Allura red (E129)

Description: synthetic red dye found in sweets, soft drinks, Turkish delight

Products: Fry’s Turkish Delight, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Maynards Wine Gums

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and may bring on allergic reactions.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

2 Responses

  1. I have long believed that the toxic chemical additives found in our food can cause all kinds of problems. I make most of the things our family eats from scratch, but sometimes it would be really nice to just be able to pick something convenient off the shelf and know that it would be safe for us to eat. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a trend.


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