"Ban artificial food colourings" UK report
Artificial food colourings should be banned in the interest of public health, according to UK researchers. A team of researchers from Southampton University said removing these substances from foods could cut hyperactivity rates in young children.
They are extending their research to see whether additive-free diets have a positive effect in older children too. The research on 300 three-year-olds, appearing in the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood, screened the children for hyperactivity and allergies. Over the next four weeks the researchers controlled the children's diets, giving them in the first week only foods free of artificial additives. During the second and fourth weeks the children were given a fruit juice with or without artificial colourings and preservatives. The children's parents were asked to keep diaries on their child's behaviour throughout the study, but were unaware which type of juice their child had been given.
Overall, the parents said their children became less hyperactive during the period when the additives were removed. Similarly, they said their children were much more hyperactive during the period when the additives were put back in. However, trained doctors doing formal assessments of the children did not find any change in behaviour with change in diet.
Professor Warner believes parental ratings might be more sensitive because parents see their children's behaviour over a longer period of time and in more varied settings. But he says more research is needed to determine this, and also whether older children's behaviour might be affected by additives in a similar way.
"It's absolutely imperative to have follow up studies because we are not now just talking about a population of children with a particular problem we are saying there's a potential for this to be an effect on all children."
Source: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3742423.stm 25 may 2004