A possible link between ADHD and food dyes

March 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
We have "red drinks", "blue candy," "orange Jello" and "yellow mac and cheese". In all, there are nine different artificial dyes approved for use in the U.S.

They're at the top of their game now, but once were labeled unfocused, unruly, and hyper. No one knows what causes ADHD, but more than 5 million kids have it.

Christian Sleipnes was diagnosed when he was four. Then, his mom read about the possible link between ADHD and food dyes. She eliminated them from her son's diet.

Christian's mother, Katherine Sleipnes said, "We're willing to try anything."

Most of the dyes are made from petroleum and used for no other purpose than to make our food look better. So could they be putting our kids' health at risk?

Dr. Daniel Bober of pediatric psychiatry said, "Whether it's Cheetos, or gummy bears, or Kool-Aid, so it's very difficult for a child that has a normal American diet to avoid using these types of dyes."

An FDA advisory committee determined evidence of food dyes causing hyperactivity in kids was inconclusive. But the European parliament demands that foods with certain dyes contain warning labels.

"If they already have ADHD, that food dyes could exasperate their symptoms," Bober said.

The color industry says the problem is not the dye. They turned down an interview with us, but an official was quoted as saying, "We don't see any strong compelling data at this point that there is a neurological effect."

Christian has been dye-free for months and his mom has noticed he's more focused and less distracted.

Industry groups say consumers can show they want change, with the color green, as in money, and stop buying dyed foods. Overseeing the safety of artificial food color was one of the reasons the FDA was founded in 1930, and it's been the focus of FDA investigations since the 1950's.


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