Halloween is just a week away, when unfortunately most kids eat a lot of cheap candy with loads of sugar and artificial dyes. Milton Stokes, M.P.H., R.D., wrote in the November/December issue of EatingWell Magazine about the potential health risks of synthetic food dyes.
- Preliminary evidence suggests that many children have a slight sensitivity to food dyes—and a smaller percentage are very sensitive. “We see reactions in sensitive individuals that include core ADHD symptoms, like difficulty sitting in a chair and interrupting conversations,” says David Schab, M.D., M.P.H., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and co-author of a 2004 meta-analysis that found food dyes promote hyperactive behavior in already hyperactive children.
- A U.S. study published in Science found that when children who scored high on a scale measuring hyperactivity consumed a food-dye blend they performed worse on tests that measured their ability to recall images than when they drank a placebo.
- A 2007 British study found that children who consumed a mixture of common synthetic dyes displayed hyperactive behavior within an hour of consumption. (These children had not been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.)
- The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has also linked with cancer.