Thursday, March 31, 2011

Food Dye Linked to ADHD?

While watching The Today Show yesterday, where it seems like most of my news comes from these days, I saw a featured report on the links of Food Dye to ADHD, a disorder that has recently (in the past decade or so) become so prominent in many children. For those who don't know, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is 'a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination... beyond the normal range for a child's age and development'. (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Another name for this disorder is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and the two often are used interchangeably in society. There has been much speculation over the past couple decades as to why children are developing this disorder at a much higher rate than previously found. What has been proven to be the cause of ADHD is heredity, that there is a given gene that contributes to the development of the brain which causes children to have such symptoms as inability to concentrate for long periods of time, sit still or even follow directions. (My ADHD)

Although heredity is the number one source linked to ADHD, many believe that products our society uses today increases the chance that your child will develop these symptoms and eventually be diagnosed with the disorder. Next to hormones, television and poor parenting, studies have also shot down the idea that a child's diet does not affect whether or not they have ADHD. However, in a recent article featured on The Today Show, Jackie Jackson Van of Washington D.C., a mother of four, says that removing all dyes from her children's diet has made a significant improvement in their day-to-day living. 

She decided to make this life altering change when she noticed her son showing symptoms commonly associated with ADHD; hyperactivity, inability to concentrate for long lengths of time, etc. She had heard and read articles that claimed that dyes found in many of our common foods were the source for ADHD symptoms so she removed all dyes from her children's diets. Within two weeks she saw drastic changes in her children's moods, behavior and even hand-writing. Although the FDA continues to deny that there is any such link, it makes a person wonder. After much speculation, the FDA is once again conducting more research on this topic.

Europe has already begun its fight to rid all foods of dyes, switching to natural fruit and vegetable sources for colors. In Britain you'll find that Fanta is dyed with pumpkin and carrot extracts and NutriGrain bars use beetroot, annatto and paprika. I do agree that by using natural elements to color our foods is much safer and better for our systems. But I am still debating whether the dyes do in fact bring out or even cause symptoms of ADHD. What are your thoughts?

Here are the two articles.
Jackie Jackson Van or Washington, DC
FDA Examines links between Food Dye, hyperactivity

Additional websites containing information on ADHD and Food Dyes:
ADHD - Pub Med Health
Food Safety Net - Cancer, ADHD and Dyes
Web MD - ADHD and Dyes


  1. i'm all for getting all synthetic chemicals out of our foods and body products. i hadn't read about the ADHD link, but i know the artificial colors are allergens for many kids, and i can't see any reason for their inclusion in products.

    it's crazy to me what we put up with here. overseas, all those processed foods are better(ish) because they don't have dyes or HFCS. nasty dyes are even in most vitamins--as well as yogurts and "healthy" things marketed to kids. i'm in favor of pressuring companies to substitute natural coloring for sure.

    when it comes to synthetic chemicals across the board, i'm wary. interesting info here!

  2. One of our family friends, a mom of four, discovered the food dye-ADHD link a dozen-ish years ago and eliminated all artificial colors from her ADHD-diagnosed-son's diet. Made a RADICAL difference. Better grades, better relationships in the family and with friends, remarkable results.

    If he happened to be elsewhere and any "offender" managed to get into his system, it was obvious! The child eventually understood how radically the stuff affected his behavior, and willingly avoided the stuff!

    I'm all for getting rid of as much synthetic and artificial stuff as possible in our foods. No genetically modified foodgarbage. No MSG (instant headaches for me and so many others). Raw foods. Fresh foods. Whole foods, whole grains, unrefined and unprocessed or minimally processed; organic when possible. Natural preservatives when essential. Simple. Delicious. Best.