FDA Examines Link Between Food Dyes and Hyperactivity

Health & Wellness on 03.30.11
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Parents and natural-food advocates have long warned about the potential pitfalls of food coloring, especially for young children. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is officially investigating the evidence against the additives. Today and tomorrow an FDA advisory committee will discuss "food dyes and behavior changes in children, whether food labels should be changed to better protect consumers, and whether more studies on the subject need to be conducted," according to a Health.com article reprinted on CNN.com

Though the FDA previously concluded that food colorings are safe and that there is no link between them and behavioral and helath problems (except for the few it's taken off the market years ago -- Orange #1 (toxic), Red #4 (carconogenic) this week's review is considered a big win for opponents of food dye additives, though where the FDA will land on the matter is anyone's guess -- scientific research to date is inconclusive as to whether the dyes affect hyperactivity (particularly ADD and ADHD) behavior in children. According to the Health.com article, in 2010, a report by the FDA:

...decided that color additives didn't directly cause hyperactivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition characterized by chronic attention and behavioral problems. However, it didn't rule out that they might exacerbate preexisting problems in children with ADHD.

Tying behavioral issues to a single ingredient can be difficult, however, since it's nealry impossible to isolate ingredients in foods; processed foods typically have more than one ingredient that could be the culprit of behavioral changes. 

Anecdotally, I know adults who had allergic reactions to food coloring when they were kids, and who were later diagnosed with ADHD. Is it a coincidence? I have no scientific evidence to prove that one way or another. And I know how my own son's behavior changes when he eats foods filled with preservatives, dyes, and highly-processed sugars. One thing is for certain, the FDA has a responsibility to get to the bottom of the problem, and should put our children's health first. 

Read more at New York Times and CNN


What do you do to keep your kids safe from foods that have unknown consequences? Do you keep foods filled preservatives and dyes out of your kids diet? Or do you think these foods are perfectly safe? Let us know in the comments. 

To Articles on Hyperactivity

Discovery Channel :: News - Health :: Short Attention Spans Serve Purpose
Attention Defecit and Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD : Discovery Health
Cut Out Preservatives, Curb Hyperactivity - Planet Green