Sunday, September 9, 2007

New York Times Article "Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds"

This article by Elisabeth Rosenthal in the Sept 6th online edition of the New York Times is particularly interesting as it discusses the link between food additives and hyperactivity in children. Particularly parents whose children already have problems, it seems sensible to just weed out foods with additives such as preservatives and artificial coloring.

"The new research, which was financed by Britain’s Food Standards Agency and published online by the British medical journal The Lancet, presents regulators with a number of issues: Should foods containing preservatives and artificial colors carry warning labels? Should some additives be prohibited entirely? Should school cafeterias remove foods with additives?

After all, the researchers note that overactivity makes learning more difficult for children.

“A mix of additives commonly found in children’s foods increases the mean level of hyperactivity,” wrote the researchers, led by Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton. “The finding lends strong support for the case that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviors (inattention, impulsivity and overactivity) at least into middle childhood.”

In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children’s activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colors and preservatives."

Check out this quote (bear in mind that psychopharmacology is the study of how drugs can modify behavior -- e.g. dose your child with ritalin if they are hyperactive.)

“Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child’s life?” said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”

If your child can't turn down a Twinkie in elementary school due to peer pressure, it's time to start working on dealing with peer pressure!


Dave Bradley said...

How on earth did this study get to make it as “news”. I have sitting on my desk right now a copy of Hanssen’s 1984 book “E for Additives” on pages 12-14 he discusses the evidence (some of which was known in the 1970s) concerning the likes of tartrazine on children’s behaviour. Gee my mother-in-law blamed food colourings in orange juice for my wife’s younger brother’s wakefulness as long ago as 1977!

Gypsynan said...

just checking to see if I was the only one who picked on this...