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The Color of Hyperactivity

Filed Under: Health Foods at 3:13 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Soft drinks

We’ve all had trouble sitting still, and we’ve all had trouble paying attention. Sometimes, the chair just isn’t comfortable, the conversation just not interesting. Our legs bounce up and down; we squirm. Our minds wander; we lose focus. However, most of us manage to reign that all back in. For every topic that goes in one ear and out the other, another ten stay put. But for some, the hyperactivity rarely lessens; the attention rarely re-centers. They have a hyperactivity disorder, most likely Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is a condition that begins in early childhood and is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  Roughly 2.4 million children in the United States have it.  The most highly recommended method of treatment is a combination of medication and behavioral therapies. Those are the practices that will work, but as with any condition, some other actions may help as well. 

Researchers in England recently examined the connection between commonly used additives and hyperactivity. They gave three hundred children  one of three drinks. Two of the drinks had varying selections of four food colorings and sodium benzoate (a compound most commonly found in soft drinks). The third beverage had a placebo.  The children who had received one of the additive-pumped drinks were more likely to behave impulsively and lose concentration. This suggests that certain additives may increase hyperactivity. However, this in no way means that they cause ADHD or similar disorders. Nor does it mean that restricting these additives will lead to a child’s cure. It simply means that decreasing the amount of additives a child consumes could help lessen the degree of hyperactivity. For a parent with an ADHD child, every little bit helps. Besides, most of these additives are in products we don’t want our kids gorging on anyway. So, cutting them out and finding alternatives is going to be beneficial no matter what.  But, how do you know what to get rid of and what to keep?

Start by reading labels. Manufacturers have to list the additives they use. If you scan the list and see sodium benzoate, carmoisine, tartrazine, ponceau, sunset yellow, quinoline yellow or allura red (the additives tested in the study), really think through the product before you toss it in the cart. Also, look for different options. Rather than the additive-filled, sugary drinks like soda and 100% no-fruit juices, buy 100% fruit, no-sugar-added juices. They not only offer health benefits like preventing UTIs, lowering bad cholesterol and providing a vast array of antioxidants but have NO link to childhood obesity.  You can’t ask for a better drink. Your child will be healthier and, God willing, a little less off-the-wall.

 1 Comment, latest by Nymphe

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One Response to “The Color of Hyperactivity”

  1. Nymphe says:

    I have seen the effect red food dye has on my children, especially Red #40. Only real juices are allowed in my home (and children should never drink pop).

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