Food additives such as colourings and preservatives seem to play a “substantial” role in making young children hyperactive and prone to tantrums, new research suggests. During the study, conducted on a group of British three-year-olds, parents said their children were markedly more active, inattentive and short-tempered when fed a diet heavy in food additives and noticeably calmer when their diet was stripped of additives.
“These findings suggest that significant changes in children’s hyperactive behaviour could be produced by the removal of artificial colourings and preservatives from their diet,” Dr. Warner said.
The link between food additives and children’s health was a popular media topic in the late 1970s. In fact, U.S. allergist Benjamin Feingold published the popular Feingold diet, in which he advocated a diet free of more than 300 food additives to treat hyperactivity. But in 1982, a panel of the U.S. National Institutes of Health determined there was no scientific evidence to support the claims that colourings and preservatives caused hyperactivity.
Interest in the subject, however, has been renewed by the escalating rates of ADHD in children.
In fact, the number of children classified as hyperactive fell to 6 per cent from 15 per cent with the change in diet, according to research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.