Friday, May 02, 2008

ADHD News: Will the Brits Ban Green Tic Tacs?

If you've read much about hyperactive, impulsive, can't focus kids--those kids we call ADHD--you've probably run across information suggesting that artificial coloring and artificial flavors can cause this annoying behavior. Or at least make the behavior worse.

Behavior that gets in the way of learning. Gets in the way of positive social skills.

For some kids, simply making sure they don't eat anything with artificial color (not that such is an easy task), takes care of hyperactivity.

Now British Scientists are suggesting that at least one third of all kids diagnosed with ADHD really have an "allergy" to artificial colors and not ADHD. And they're putting pressure on the British Food Standards Agency to force manufacturers to stop using these chemicals.

Two groups of children showed changes in behavior when given the artificial coloring during controlled trials. The kids couldn't sit still and concentrate. Had problems reading and became loud and impulsive. (Don't know if enough kids took part in the trials to make the results statistically significant. And not sure how they came up with "one third.")

Jim Stevenson, a researcher at the University of Southampton, even suggests that banning artificial colors will also help reduce anti-social behavior in teens.

The British now have some 900 "foods" that contain artificial coloring, like green Tic Tacs. How many "foods" in the U.S.? Lots. Glad I don't have to count them! I'm not sure I'm even up to counting how many in my cupboard.

So read the labels. Check out what's in that "food" your kids are gobbling. What's in the "food" you're snacking on right this minute as you read this blog post!

Uh, oh. I just looked at the label on a lollipop I got at the bank. ( I refuse to bank at any institution that doesn't have bowls of lollipops on the counter.) Sure enough, found the dreaded words "artificially flavored" right there on the cellophane wrapper. Doesn't say "artificial color" but I'm sure it's not natural!


P.S. Interested in exactly how psychiatrists and psychologists make an ADHD diagnosis? Check out the DSM-IV Criteria for ADHD. (Scroll to the bottom of that page.)

Then ask yourself couldn't a child answer "yes" to six or more of the questions and have artificial color and flavor "allergies" instead of ADHD?

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