A continuing theme I’ve heard throughout my career revolves around the concern of children’s behavior being linked to a variety of food and drink products we all consume. You see, it all stems back a few decades when a pediatrician, Dr. Ben Feingold, first started publishing his findings of linking artificial food and hyperactive behavior in children.
In fact, he even proposed eliminating them from a child’s diet at that time. And now, nearly 4 decades later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be coming around on this.
Thanks to a consumer group, The Center for Science in Public Interest, the U.S. government will soon determine whether blue, green, orange, red, and yellow artificial food colorings should be banned from a variety of food products we all eat. I’ll refrain from giving specific product names but think of it this way, if your favorite chip, candy, sports drink has color in it, some artificial food coloring is probably being used.
Obviously, manufacturers of these artificial food dyes believe they are safe. They say there is no conclusive evidence to point to a causal relationship between artificial food dyes and the general population, as a whole. So the FDA will have to sift through the research (including a 2007 study which renewed the concern of a link after assessing children who drink food drinks with the artificial food colorings) and make its own conclusion.
Now anecdotally, I have had plenty of parents “swear” to me that when their children eat foods with the coloring dyes in them, their children become hyperactive. But on the flip side, there are many children who appear to tolerate these food dyes without any behavioral concerns.
So while we wait for the FDA to make a determination on whether to ban these dyes, I have some simple and common sense-based advice for parents: if you feel eating foods or drinks with artificial food dyes leads to hyperactive behavior in your children, don’t let them eat them. Furthermore, the foods/drinks that usually have the dyes are typically not the healthiest, so limiting their overall intake should be something parents are doing already.