Feeds

Government warns parents of food-colouring danger

Chemicals: bad for kids

Boost IT visibility and business value

Parents are being warned of a link between disruptive behaviour and hyperactivity in children and certain food additives.

Research conducted by the Food Standards Agency established that children behave impulsively, and lost concentration after drinking a cocktail of additives and preservatives. Some 300 children were involved in the study, which was carried out at the University of Southampton.

The children, aged from three to nine years, were given a drink containing four artificial colours (sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129)) and the preservative sodium benzoate (E211). The mix was designed to reflect the composition and quantity of additives a child was likely to consume in a typical day.

They were also given another mix, identical to that in a previous study. This contained E102 (tartrazine) and E124 (Ponceau 4R), as well as sunset yellow, carmoisine and sodium benzoate. There was also a placebo, containing no additives at all.

After the drink, some, but not all of the children showed signs of hyperactivity. The response was not limited to those participants already identified as being hyperactive.

The researchers said that based on the two mixes the children consumed, they couldn't specify which of the chemicals was the trigger for deteriorating behaviour. But as sodium benzoate was in both mixes, and the results were inconsistent, it was likely to be one of the food colourings.

Dr Andrew Wadge, the FSA's chief scientist, said: "We have revised our advice to consumers: if a child shows signs of hyperactivity or ADHD, then eliminating the colours used in the study from their diet might have some beneficial effects."

There are many other factors thought to contribute to hyperactivity, and the researchers stressed that there was no suggestion that eliminating additives will be a panacea for the disorder.

The agency has also passed its findings onto its European counterparts, the European Food Safety Authority, which will now decide whether or not to update European safety guidelines.

But critics say the government has not gone far enough. Professor Jim Stevenson, who headed the Southampton study, told The Guardian that his personal view was that the government could easily take a tougher stance, and ban the chemicals used in the study.

Meanwhile, the Hyperactive Children's Support Group told the paper that while it welcomed confirmation of the link, it questioned the practicality of the advice. Is it practical, it asked, to expect parents to interrogate schools about their meals, or friends about the contents of party bags?

Others advise caution in extrapolating from such a small study to the wider population.

You can read more on the research here. The work is published in The Lancet. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.