Food additives and hyperactivityBMJ 2008; 336 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39582.375336.BE (Published 22 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1144
- Andrew Kemp, professor of paediatric allergy and clinical immunology
- 1Department of Allergy and Immunology, Children’s Hospital at Westmead, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia
Whether preservatives and colourings cause or exacerbate hyperactive behaviours is an important question for many paediatricians and parents. A recent randomised placebo controlled trial in 297 children aged 3-9 years provides evidence of increased hyperactive behaviour after they ate a mixture of food colourings and a preservative (sodium benzoate).1 In contrast to many previous studies, the children were from the general population and did not have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The trial found an adverse effect of the mixture on behaviour as measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate score. The daily dose approximated that found in two 56 g bags of sweets.
In view of the potential importance of these findings, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently provided an opinion that takes other evidence into account. …