Essay: Effects of Food Additives on Children with ADHD

Sample Essay

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This essay is about the effects of food additives on children with ADHD. Health care professionals and researchers have in general downplayed the idea that several foods or food preservatives may add to child behavior problems.

Health care professionals and researchers have in general downplayed the idea that several foods or food preservatives may add to child behavior problems. The idea that food can transform children’s behavior became a popularly accepted idea in the early 1970s, when California allergist Benjamin Feingold (1975) affirmed that the behavior of many of his young patients had gotten better when he placed them on special diets to treat their food allergies. Feingold held food additives responsible, mainly food dyes as well as Salicylates, which are chemicals that are present naturally in the majority of fruits. (Feingold 1975)

Since then numerous research studies have tried to find if food dyes or ordinary foods exacerbate behavior in children with ADHD or other behavioral problems. A few of the studies evaluated regular diets to ones free of preservatives like food dyes, additives, and caffeine. Others put children on very controlled diets and then “challenged” them by feeding them food dyes or foods—like milk or wheat—that typically causes food allergies.

Ben Feingold recommended that ADHD symptoms in many children could be lessened by doing away with various artificial food colorings from the diet, naturally occurring salicylates substances found naturally in many fruits and vegetables and some preservatives. Other subsequent controlled trials generally published in the 1970s and 1980s seemed to support this theory, but the evidence from these was varied. The suppositions of several qualitative reviews were also mixed, and led only to create more confusions by polarizing the debate.

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