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Health Watch: Food Additives & Children


You can find them in products on virtually any shelf along every aisle of any grocery store in America. Those food additives with complicated names and a simple job: To preserve or color everything from juice to Jell-O, pickles to candy. Now, a new study finds those ingredients that add longevity and color can ignite hyperactivity in children between the ages of three and nine.

“As a nutritionist as well as a mother this study to me represents a reason not to have snack foods and drinks that have additives in them or certainly not an excessive amount of additives,” said Dr. Linda Van Horn, a researcher at Northwestern University.

While the study is the first confirmed link between additives and hyperactivity, it won’t surprise many parents who’ve long believed that a colorful treat like this will send their children soaring.

That’s why Chicago mom, Kris Jennings, has a kitchen full of foods with no additives.
She is a stickler for natural foods especially when it comes to what her 4-year-old daughter Ava eats. Jennings says she’s always believed what science now confirms.

“When I hear about studies that correlate food additives to children’s behavior like ADHD, I definitely feel vindicated in just how I feed my daughter and my family,” Jennings says.
“It just makes me feel better about it.”

Trade groups for food, beverage and additive manufacturer’s declined comment.
The FDA says the ingredients are safe, though it has yet to review the study, which came out of the UK.

The study’s author questions whether additives which don’t add flavor are necessary.

“We really need to ask the food manufacturers why are they putting them in there,” said Jim Stevenson, Lead Researcher from the University of Southampton.

“What is the purpose they are serving if they have no nutritional value they are only there perhaps to make the products more attractive to children”

If kids are behaving badly, Stevenson suggests, take a look not at what they’re doing, but what they’re eating.


Other sources:

Times Online:

Forbes article:

U. S. Food and Drug Administration (Food Additives)

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