- March 19, 2008 at 3:30 am #256714
All kids are hyperactive at some point in time but a recent study by
the British food standards agency shows a direct link between certain
food additives and hyperactivity in kids. Here’s part one of Maureen
Kane’s special report, Hungry for Attention: Feeding the Disorder.
While this area of research is not new, many parents of children with
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are now questioning if
cutting these additives out of their kids’ diets will “cure” them, so
we asked the experts to help you decide if changing the diet can
change the behavior.
The behavior many of us associate with Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (adhd) is something joangeli kasper
understands as a counselor for children with adhd.
kasper also brings firsthand knowledge to the table. she herself has
adhd, as do her own kids.
“adhd is a brain-based disorder where you can’t get the right
neurotransmitters to the right place,” joangeli says.
as it turns out, that fuel could help regulate the behavior of kids
with adhd. the british government’s food standards agency study shows
eliminating certain food additives and chemicals from a child’s diet
could decrease hyperactivity.
the study supports research dating back more than 30 years done by
Dr. Ben Feingold. The British study looked at specifically at several
yellow and red colorings used in jams, drinks, and candies, as well
as sodium benzoate, a preservative.
Those are chemicals that farmers at Dominion Farms stay away from.
It’s an all-natural beef, pork and poultry farm run by Grayson County
Judge Drue Bynum and his family.
Bynum says eliminating chemicals and additives from his animals
diets, eliminates them from his customers diet as well.
“Our eggs are 285% higher in riboflavin, other vitamins than store
bought egg would be. They are also higher in omega 3 fatty acids.”
Those omega 3’s are proven to help build nerve cell membranes in the
brain, and many doctors recommend them as a supplement for adhd kids.
but can eating all natural foods in a supplementation diet or
eliminating additives and colorings from a child’s diet truly
eliminate adhd symptoms, like the latest research suggests?
“there’s not enough evidence,” kasper says.
while some doctors and researchers disagree the link between food
additives and hyperactivity, some dominion farms customers say
they’ve seen proof that healthier eating makes for a healthier kid.
“a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes said, `this has changed
my life. my son has adhd, he started eating all-natural, he no longer
has attention deficit disorder,” judge bynum says.
even some parents of children without adhd say eliminating food
additives makes a difference.
while experts like karen sylvester say more studies must be done
before elimination diets or supplementation diets can be proven to
help adhd kids.
for a list of foods nutritionists advise adhd kids to avoid and for
more on all-natural foods, check the related links at below this
feingold diet recommendations
the feingold study recommends eliminating (then slowly reintroducing
into diet one at a time, if parents choose):
*artificial sweeteners (acesulfame-k, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose)
*preservatives bht, bha, tbhq
*foods that contain natural salicylates include:
-almonds, apples, apricots, berries, cherries, cloves, coffee,
cucumbers, currants, grapes, green peppers, nectarines, oranges, oil
of wintergreen, peaches, pickles, plums, prunes, raisins, rosehips,
tangerines, tangelos, tea, tomatoes
food standards agency study shows the following additives may be
linked to hyperactivity in children:
*sunset yellow (e110), found in fruity drinks
*carmoisine (E122), a red coloring often added to jams
*ponceau 4R (E124), a red food coloring
*tartrazine (E102), found in lollipops and carbonated drinks
*quinoline yellow (E104), a food coloring
*allura red AC (E129), a food coloring
Local nutritionists recommend children have:
*only 8 teaspoons sugar/day
*no more than 300 mg of caffeine/day
-avoid monster drinks
-super reds, other dyes
*9 hours and 45 minutes of rest for 3rd graders
It’s a question parents of adhd kids have been asking for years-
could changing your child’s diet change their behavior? a recent
british study has brought the question back into the spotlight. in
part two of our series, hungry for attention: feeding the disorder,
we talk with the experts about the validity of this research and what
treatments they recommend.
thirty years of research has yet to confirm if eliminating food
additives and colorings will decrease hyperactivity in ad/hd kids.
“diet is so controversial, we don’t know what causes ad/hd. so many
parents are scared of medication,” said licensed dietician karen
so to avoid medicating their kids, many parents are willing to try
elimination diets or supplementation diets.
an estimated 7% of all school children have ad/hd, so we went to a
local cafeteria to see what’s on the menu, the science behind why,
and what affects these foods could have on an ad/hd child.
bill tredennick is the food services director for sherman isd. he
says the schools feed thousands of kids a day, and while the district
doesn’t have a specific menue for kids with ad/hd, they do follow
guidelines set by the usda. those guidelines are designed to meet the
needs of most students.
“there’s no more than 30 grams of sugar in one beverage, no bakery
product can have more than 10 oz of sugar per product,” Tredennick
Despite the restrictions in the cafeteria, most schools also offer
varieties of candy and other snacks, many with preservatives and food
It’s those additives that some researchers say can increase
hyperactivity in kids with ad/hd.
“we have a product we offer that meets usda guidelines, it’s up to
parents to say…you don’t need to buy that,” said tredennick.
while the options are there to reject certain foods, experts say
regulating sugars and additives is just one piece of the ad/hd
“starting with diet is always a good idea, seeing a nutritionist, but
we need to be careful not to put all eggs in one basket. we are not
just food we are the product of our environment, so many facts are
involved. if we’re going to treat the whole body, we need to treat
the whole body,” said licensed professional counselor, joangeli
kasper has ad/hd and she says diet can help improve the overall
health of any child, but diet will not cure a child of ad/hd. she
says each kid requires a different combination of treatments.
“structure. structure is important. it gives them that sense of
organization, because that’s what this is organizing information.”
and while the research about diet and behavior is still up for
debate, kasper says one treatment is a sure thing.
“i have seen medication transform lives. if you have ad/hd…medicine
will work….it just does,” kasper said.
in talking to the experts, it seems there’s no definitive link
between food additives and hyperactivity. but the studies on diet and
behavior will continue.
and while there’s no clear cut answer for how to treat ad/hd, there
are several local and online resources for people living with the
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