Food Additives May Affect Kids' Hyperactivity
Food Coloring and Preservatives May Increase Hyperactivity in Children, but Evidence Not Conclusive
WebMD News Archive
Finding a Diet to Fight Hyperactivity
Aside from the preservative and food colorings examined by this
study, Schnoll says many other foods are commonly implicated in triggering
hyperactive behavior and allergic reactions in children. They include
chocolate, cow's milk, eggs, oranges, sugar, and wheat.
That's why she says it's so difficult to do these types of
studies well -- it's hard to take out only one or two things from the diet and
come up with what causes the problems in behavior.
Instead, Schnoll recommends a "few foods" or
"elimination" diet for children with hyperactivity problems to
determine if food reactions are playing a role in their behavior. The diet
includes only a few foods that do not commonly cause allergic reactions, such
as chicken, lamb, bananas, pears, rice, and potatoes.
The child stays on this diet for two weeks, and then the
parents can start adding foods one by one back into diet and monitor for
allergic reactions or changes in behavior.
"In all studies I have seen, this is best approach where
you can actually see kids react after eating various certain foods," says
"There is a very big allergic component to hyperactivity
where children who are hyperactive also have other types of allergic problems,
such as eczema and asthma," Schnoll tells WebMD. "When you take them
off these offending foods -- whether they're colorings, food additives, milk,
dairy, or wheat -- it improves their allergic conditions, and also their
In addition, Schnoll says not getting the proper balance of
vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can make children more susceptible to
hyperactive behavior and other problems.
"We are getting too much of the trans fats and the omega-6
fatty acids from the plant oils and not enough of omega-3 fats that we find in
walnuts, flaxseed, and fish," says Schnoll. "Not getting enough of
these omega-3s can actually precipitate allergies and possibly hyperactive