Artificial Food Colors & ADHD

Artificial Food Colors & ADHD
5 (100%) 9 votes

In response to definitive evidence showing artificial colors may increase inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity among young children, a call has been made by consumer groups to ban food dyes.

Comenta
Comparte

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

It is estimated that there are currently thousands of additives in our food supply. Some are good—like supplementing foods with vitamin B12, for example. Others, you have to weigh the risks and benefits—like the nitrites in processed meats. Yes, they may increase your risk of cancer, but, as preservatives, they decrease your risk of dying from botulism.

Then, there are additives used for purely cosmetic purposes—like food dyes, used “to provide color to colorless and ‘fun’ foods.” According to the FDA: “Without color additives, colas wouldn’t be brown, margarine wouldn’t be yellow and mint ice cream wouldn’t be green.” Heaven forbid! According to the FDA: “Color additives are now recognized as an important part of practically all processed foods we eat.”

Because we are eating a lot more processed foods, we’re now getting five times more food dyes in our daily diet than we were 50 years ago. 15 million pounds of food dyes are used every year in foods, drugs, and cosmetics in the United States.

I always wondered why they called them like Blue #1, instead of their actual chemical names in the list of ingredients. Then, after reading this report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, I realized why.

Here’s a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. It has Yellow #5. Do you think people would be as likely to buy this product if, instead of “Yellow #5,” it said this, instead, on the label? 

This list of approved colors used to be longer, but different dyes keep getting banned, including “Violet #1, which, ironically, was the color used in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meat inspection stamp.” So, they may have been actually further cancer-ing up the meat.

Years ago, I featured this landmark study—a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge, published in perhaps the most prestigious medical journal in the world, showing artificial colors increased “inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity” among young children. So, what happened?

Well, the British government said, okay, there’s no health benefits to these dyes; only health risks. So, it’s a no-brainer. And, they “mandated that food manufacturers remove most of the artificial food colors from their products.” In fact, the whole European Union said, fine, you want to continue using these dyes? Then, you have to put a warning label stating, look, “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” So, many international food companies have taken them out of their products in Europe, but they continue to use them in the same products here in the U.S., “where similar regulations are not currently in place.” Why not?

Well, the FDA put together a committee that looked at that same landmark study, and conceded that the food additives may have resulted in changes in behavior. But, “the type of treatment effects reported in this study, even though the investigators referred to increases in levels of ‘hyperactivity,’ were not the disruptive excessive hyperactivity behaviors of ADHD but more likely the type of overactivity exhibited occasionally by the general population of preschool and school age children.”

To which a distinguished toxicologist responded, look, low-level lead exposure may only shave off a few IQ points off of kids. But, just because they’d still fall within the normal range doesn’t mean it’s okay to expose kids to it. And, in fact, now looking back, the lead in leaded gas may have been causing brain cancer, and even urban violence. The aggravated assault rate in cities around the U.S. seemed to follow the lead levels in the air pretty closely.

Anyway, the CSPI continues to call on the FDA to ban food dyes, and for food companies to voluntarily stop using them. Good luck with that. In the meanwhile, some researchers recently suggested a way to see which food colors may be damaging your children’s brain—advising parents to test artificial colors by purchasing little bottles of food dye at the grocery store. Then, have your child do some homework or something, and then, have them chug down an artificial color, and see if it affects their handwriting, reading, math at 30 minutes, then at 90 minutes, and at three hours. Also, see if they get irritable later, have problems sleeping. Then, if that’s okay, you try even more, to see if that will mess up their mind.

If I may offer an alternate suggestion, maybe we shouldn’t be buying our kids processed crap in the first place.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to gentlepurespace via flickr. Thanks to Ellen Reid and Shane Barrett for their Keynote help.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

It is estimated that there are currently thousands of additives in our food supply. Some are good—like supplementing foods with vitamin B12, for example. Others, you have to weigh the risks and benefits—like the nitrites in processed meats. Yes, they may increase your risk of cancer, but, as preservatives, they decrease your risk of dying from botulism.

Then, there are additives used for purely cosmetic purposes—like food dyes, used “to provide color to colorless and ‘fun’ foods.” According to the FDA: “Without color additives, colas wouldn’t be brown, margarine wouldn’t be yellow and mint ice cream wouldn’t be green.” Heaven forbid! According to the FDA: “Color additives are now recognized as an important part of practically all processed foods we eat.”

Because we are eating a lot more processed foods, we’re now getting five times more food dyes in our daily diet than we were 50 years ago. 15 million pounds of food dyes are used every year in foods, drugs, and cosmetics in the United States.

I always wondered why they called them like Blue #1, instead of their actual chemical names in the list of ingredients. Then, after reading this report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, I realized why.

Here’s a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. It has Yellow #5. Do you think people would be as likely to buy this product if, instead of “Yellow #5,” it said this, instead, on the label? 

This list of approved colors used to be longer, but different dyes keep getting banned, including “Violet #1, which, ironically, was the color used in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meat inspection stamp.” So, they may have been actually further cancer-ing up the meat.

Years ago, I featured this landmark study—a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge, published in perhaps the most prestigious medical journal in the world, showing artificial colors increased “inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity” among young children. So, what happened?

Well, the British government said, okay, there’s no health benefits to these dyes; only health risks. So, it’s a no-brainer. And, they “mandated that food manufacturers remove most of the artificial food colors from their products.” In fact, the whole European Union said, fine, you want to continue using these dyes? Then, you have to put a warning label stating, look, “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” So, many international food companies have taken them out of their products in Europe, but they continue to use them in the same products here in the U.S., “where similar regulations are not currently in place.” Why not?

Well, the FDA put together a committee that looked at that same landmark study, and conceded that the food additives may have resulted in changes in behavior. But, “the type of treatment effects reported in this study, even though the investigators referred to increases in levels of ‘hyperactivity,’ were not the disruptive excessive hyperactivity behaviors of ADHD but more likely the type of overactivity exhibited occasionally by the general population of preschool and school age children.”

To which a distinguished toxicologist responded, look, low-level lead exposure may only shave off a few IQ points off of kids. But, just because they’d still fall within the normal range doesn’t mean it’s okay to expose kids to it. And, in fact, now looking back, the lead in leaded gas may have been causing brain cancer, and even urban violence. The aggravated assault rate in cities around the U.S. seemed to follow the lead levels in the air pretty closely.

Anyway, the CSPI continues to call on the FDA to ban food dyes, and for food companies to voluntarily stop using them. Good luck with that. In the meanwhile, some researchers recently suggested a way to see which food colors may be damaging your children’s brain—advising parents to test artificial colors by purchasing little bottles of food dye at the grocery store. Then, have your child do some homework or something, and then, have them chug down an artificial color, and see if it affects their handwriting, reading, math at 30 minutes, then at 90 minutes, and at three hours. Also, see if they get irritable later, have problems sleeping. Then, if that’s okay, you try even more, to see if that will mess up their mind.

If I may offer an alternate suggestion, maybe we shouldn’t be buying our kids processed crap in the first place.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to gentlepurespace via flickr. Thanks to Ellen Reid and Shane Barrett for their Keynote help.

Nota del Doctor

I originally covered the landmark Lancet study in Are Artificial Colors Bad for You? There’s even sometimes Artificial Coloring in Fish.

This whole saga reminds me of my recent video on artificial flavors; see Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn or Breathing. Amazing what the food industry is able to get away with.

There’s a campaign to get Kraft to remove Yellow #5 from their Mac & Cheese. But, even if the stuff didn’t glow in the dark, it’s still just a blob of sodium (750 mg), saturated fat (4.5 g), and trans fat (2.8 g). The food movement might better spend its time encouraging healthier fare altogether.

How can we get our kids to eat less processed junk? I review some practical tips in my next two videos: Tricks to Get Kids to Eat Healthier at School, and Tricks to Get Kids to Eat Healthier at Home.

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Food Dyes & ADHD.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

Deja una respuesta

Tu correo electrónico no se publicará Los campos obligatorios están marcados *

Pin It en Pinterest

Share This