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Can food dye cause hyperactivity?

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A study by the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency in 2007 showed that the consumption of foods containing dyes could increase hyperactive behavior in children. In the study of 3-, 8- and 9-year-olds, children were given three different types of beverages to drink. Then, teachers and parents evaluated the children's behavior.

One of the drink mixtures contained artificial food colorings, including:

It also contained the preservative sodium benzoate. The second drink mixture included:

It also had sodium benzoate. The third drink mixture was a placebo and contained no additives.

The researchers found that hyperactive behavior by the 8- and 9-year-olds increased with both the mixtures containing artificial coloring additives. The hyperactive behavior of 3-year-olds increased with the first beverage but not necessarily with the second. They concluded that the results show an adverse effect on behavior after consumption of the food dyes.

  • Sunset yellow (E110)
  • Carmoisine (E122)
  • Tartrazine (E102)
  • Ponceau 4R (E124)
  • Quinoline yellow (E104)
  • Allura red (E129)
  • Sunset yellow
  • Carmoisine

From: Food Dye and ADHD WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

FDA: “Food Ingredients and Colors.”

National Institutes of Health: “Hyperactivity and Sugar.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “ADHD: What Parents Should Know.”

American Psychiatric Association: “ADHD Parents Medication Guide.”

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on November 1, 2018

SOURCES:

FDA: “Food Ingredients and Colors.”

National Institutes of Health: “Hyperactivity and Sugar.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “ADHD: What Parents Should Know.”

American Psychiatric Association: “ADHD Parents Medication Guide.”

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on November 1, 2018

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