In my book on ADHD, Why ADHD Doesn’t Mean Disaster …
… I say this about the association between food additives and ADHD:
Dr. Ben Feingold first popularized the idea in his 1985 book, Why Your Child Is Hyperactive, that food additives caused ADHD. However, multiple medical studies since then indicate that the likelihood of these substances playing a role in ADHD is very, very low. Although food dyes or preservatives may affect some children, it is at most a very small percentage and a very small effect.
Nevertheless, I also wrote this:
While it is highly unlikely that ADHD is either caused or worsened by junk foods, there are plenty of other health reasons to restrict these foods at least on normal days.
And, I might add, there’s certainly no harm in trying a diet eliminating or restricting food additives and see how your child does. If you want to give this a try, here are nine additives you may want to first eliminate according to an article at Health.com:
1) Blue No. 1
- Also known as: Brilliant blue
- What it is: A food coloring
- Where you can find it: Frito-Lay Sun Chips French Onion and other Frito-Lay products; some Yoplait products; some JELL-O dessert products; Fruity Cheerios; Trix; Froot-Loops; Apple Jacks; Quaker Cap’N Crunch’s Crunch Berries; some Pop-Tarts products; some Oscar Mayer Lunchables; Duncan Hines Whipped Frosting Chocolate; Edy’s ice cream products; Skittles candies; Jolly Ranchers Screaming Sours Soft & Chew Candy; Eclipse gum; Fanta Grape
2) Blue No. 2
- Also known as: Indigotine
- What it is: A food coloring
- Where you can find it: Froot-Loops; Post Fruity Pebbles; Pop-Tarts products; Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Strawberry Supreme Premium Cake Mix; Betty Crocker Frosting Rich & Creamy Cherry; M&M’s Milk Chocolate Candies; M&M’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Candies; Wonka Nerds Grape/Strawberry; pet foods
3) Green No. 3
- What it is: A food coloring, though rarely used these days
- Where you can find it: Candy, beverages, ice cream, puddings
4) Orange B
- What it is: A food coloring, but no longer used
- Where you used to find it: Sausage casings
5) Red No. 3
- Also known as: Carmoisine
- What it is: A food coloring found only in a few types of food products
- Where you can find it: Candy, cake icing, chewing gum
6) Sodium benzoate
- What it is: A food preservative
- Where you can find it: Fruit juice, carbonated beverages, and pickles
- You’ll find sodium benzoate in abundance in acidic foods. It is used to stymie the growth of microorganisms, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
7) Red No. 40
- Also known as: Allura red
- What it is: A food coloring and the most widely used food dye in the U.S., trumping both Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6.
- Where you can find it: Some Frito-Lay products; some Yoplait products; JELL-O Gelatin desserts; Quaker Instant Oatmeal; Trix; Froot-Loops; Apple Jacks; some Pop-Tart products; Kid Cuisine Kung Fu Panda products; Oscar Mayer Lunchables products; Hostess Twinkies; some Pillsbury rolls and frostings; some Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines frostings; and more
8) Yellow No. 5
- Also known as: Tartrazine
- What it is: Yellow No. 5 is the only food dye that has been tested alone and not simply as part of a mix. Those studies did link it to hyperactivity. It is the second most commonly used dye in the U.S.
- Where you can find it: Nabisco Cheese Nips Four Cheese; Frito-Lay Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar and other Frito-Lay products; some Hunt’s Snack Pack Pudding products; Lucky Charms; Eggo waffles and other waffle products; some Pop-Tarts products; various Kraft macaroni and cheese products; Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper and other products
9) Yellow No. 6
- Also known as: Sunset yellow
- What it is: The third most widely used food dye in the U.S.
- Where you can find it: Frito-Lay Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Crunchy and other Frito-Lay products; Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-ups; some JELL-O gelatin deserts and instant puddings; Fruity Cheerios; Trix; some Eggo waffle products; some Kid Cuisine Kung Fu Panda products; some Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners; some Betty Crocker frostings; some M&M’s and Skittles candies; Sunkist Orange Soda; Fanta Orange