A study published in the January 2010 issue of Pediatrics now estimates that 8.6 percent of American children and adolescents have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The survey also found that boys are more than twice as likely as girls to have ADHD.
In the past several decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children with ADHD—from 150,000 children in 1970 to 4.5 million by 2003. In a 2009 scientific review article published in the journal Explore, Sanford C. Newmark, M.D., cited sensitivities to certain food additives and foods, as well as other nutritional factors, as possible culprits in this rise. “Research has shown a consistent relationship to the intake of artificial colors and/or preservatives on the symptoms of ADHD or hyperactivity,” he wrote. After describing two large British studies linking food dyes and preservatives with hyperactivity, he concluded: “One can see how the intake of these substances could ‘shift’ in a positive direction the proportion of children diagnosed with ADHD.”
Consumption of artificial food dyes has increased almost threefold since the 1980s, rising from about 6.4 million pounds in 1985 to more than 17.8 million pounds in 2005. The American Academy of Pediatrics have suggested “a trial of a preservativefree, food coloring-free diet” for hyperactive children; nineteen prominent scientists cosigned a letter calling on Congress to ban these additives.
Dr. Newmark concluded his review by recommending that “all families [whose children have ADHD] eliminate artificial colors and preservatives from their children’s diet as much as possible.” He also suggested that these children be checked for food sensitivities, as well as for low iron and zinc levels, all of which have been linked with ADHD.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Research Review, Issue #25.
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