Food colour not linked to ADHD


According to a meta-analytical review of research examining the link between food colourings and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); there is ‘insignificant data’ linking FDA-approved food colorants and an increased prevalence of ADHD .

There is a significant amount of data linking food colorants to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, the research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, reported that when only examining a link between FDA approved food colourings, the link was no longer ‘reliable’.

The meta-analysis consisted of examining the results of 24 studies that had previously investigated the link between food colouring and ADHD . It was concluded that synthetic food colours affected symptoms of ADHD in approximately 8 percent of children. The data suggested that parents indicate a significant impact of food colours on the severity of ADHD symptoms . However when teacher evaluation and only FDA-approved food colours were included in the analysis the link was not found to be ‘reliable’.

This research has sparked a the European Commission to authorise the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to re-evaluate the safety of all previously authorised food additives, based on latest scientific research. Food colourings are in the first phase of re-evaluation as they were one of first food groups to be authorised for use in the European Union. In light of the EFSA’s conclusions which are due to be complete by 2020; the European Commission and its Member States may remove particular additives and colorants from its list of authorized food additives in order to protect consumer’s health.

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