Artificial Food Additives Affect Children's Behavior - New Study Confirms It!

Parents Please Pay Attention!!! Here are some hard facts you need to know and share...
Posted by sakerfa on November 29, 2008

Years of research finally supports what many parents already knew: Junk foods – loaded with artificial food dyes and preservatives – cause behavioral problems in children.

Research from a study of 297 children published in The Lancet found a significant number of children became more inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive when given a test drink with artificial additives. (The subjects were from the general population, not diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.) In England, where the study was conducted, people are calling for the additives to be banned from the food supply because the effects can lead to reading and other problems in school.

In the U.S., doctors are advising parents to check and possibly change their child’s diet before considering ADHD drugs.

In the February edition of The American Academy of Pediatrics Grand Rounds, two medical experts praised the current research and advised pediatricians to recommend “a trial of preservative-free, food coloring-free diet” when a child is hyperactive.

The connection between food additives and behavior was noted more than 30 years ago by an allergist, Ben Feingold. He also hypothesized certain children were sensitive to foods with salicylates, compounds similar to aspirin. He recommended trying an elimination diet and documented hundreds of case studies in which behavior improved.

Although rigorous research on the Feingold program is lacking, current research is substantiating many aspects of it. Fervent believers in Feingold’s methods support and manage the nonprofit Feingold Association (click on the title above for a link to In addition to salicylates, The Feingold Program recommends eliminating from the diet: all artificial (synthetic) colors, listed on the label as “food coloring”, “color added” or by its FDA number, like FD&C Yellow #5 or FD&C Red #40 (both used in the Lancet study); artificial flavors listed as “flavoring” or “artificial flavoring” or artificial vanilla (vanillin); aspartame (an artificial sweetener); and three preservatives, BHA, BHT, and TBHQ – already removed from most food for children in the U.K.

Many children’s cereals contain BHT and artificial colors but Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Kashi, Barbara’s, and Trader Joe’s brands do not. Yogurts, like Stonyfield or Trader Joe’s, do not have artificial colors. Plain tortilla or potato chips trump artificially colored Doritos, barbeque potato chips or orange cheese curls. Choose clear Gatorade, Capri Sun Sport, or dilute natural juice (in half) with water for young athletes. Dye-free Motrin or Benadryl are also available now.

Joan Endyke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition and food science, and also a certified personal trainer. She is the nutrition director at Fitness Unlimited. Readers may send questions about nutrition to Endyke at Fitness Unlimited, 364 Granite Ave., Milton, MA 02186 or by e-mail to

The Patriot Ledger

The information in this column is not intended to diagnose individual conditions. Readers should see their doctors about specific problems.



  1. Joan Endyke is brilliant.

  2. Thank you for giving this topic the attention it deserves. The Feingold Association is the thing to join to learn more.

  3. Yes Joan Endyke is brilliant. I wonder what her thoughts are on Folic Acid deficiency?

  4. Thanks for posting. I will continue to learn as much as I can about products that impact our health and environment and share them with as many people as I can.

  5. Thanks Susan! I think we are fighting a huge battle as it seems that people just do not believe in anything working anymore...people do not understand that our bodies and brains require certain elements to thrive...and we can get these elements through proper nutrition and supplements. Keep posting...any info on folate deficiency?

  6. Susan, I would absolutely love for you to guest blog about omega-3. I am especially interested in the effects of supplementation on brain development and the effects of genetic folic acid deficiency. Dr. John Garst had some very interesting things to say (on this blog and elsewhere) about how people with folate deficiencies react to aspartame. If your up for it, pop something into word and send it to me at


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead