Artificial Color Warning – British Study Shows Link Between Artificial Food Additives and Behavioral Problems
In a new study which further calls in to question the safety of artificial food additives, researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK have found what they believe to be conclusive evidence of a link between various artificial food additives and hyperactivity and restlessness in children. The study, which is slated to be peer-reviewed and published later this year, was commissioned by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), a public health agency whose role in safeguarding the food supply in the UK is similar to that of the FDA in the United States.
Researchers tested six artificial food colorings including:
Tartrazine – which is listed as FD&C Yellow #5 on food and supplement labels in the United States
Sunset Yellow – Which is listed as FD&C Yellow #6 on food and supplement labels in the United States
Allura Red AC – which is listed as FD&C Red #40 on food and supplement labels in the United States
These additives, along with the common preservative, sodium benzoate were administered in the study in combinations and dosages which an average child may consume in a typical day.
The study found that ALL of the tested chemicals were associated with some sort of medical risk, including hyperactivity, mood swings, asthma, allergic reactions and intolerance.
And this study is not the first of its kind. British researchers commissioned by the FSA in 2000, performed a similar study and in it, made the following assessment:
"significant changes in children's behaviour could be produced by the removal of colourings and additives from their diet [and] benefit would accrue for all children from such a change and not just for those already showing hyperactive behaviour or who are at risk of allergic reactions."
While this previous study known as the Isle of Wight study, showed similar results, the research was officially deemed “inconclusive” due to the reliance on possibly subjective assessments of children’s behavior.
The more recent, just completed study, which was performed with more rigorous scientific controls, was undertaken specifically to reach more conclusive findings than the Isle of Wight study. The researchers believe that this new research provides definitive proof of the relationship between artificial food colorings and behavioral problems.
Quoted in the Guardian newspaper, was Dr Alex Richardson, the director of Food and Behaviour Research and senior research scientist at Oxford University, "There are well-documented potential risks from these additives. In my view the researchers had done an excellent piece of work first time round and there was enough evidence to act. If this new study essentially replicates that, what more evidence do they need to remove these additives from children's food and drink?"
FSA researcher, and expert on food additives, Vyvyan Howard, was also quoted: “It is biologically plausible that there could be an effect from these additives. While you are waiting for the results to come out you can choose not to expose your children to these substances. These compounds have no nutritional value and I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter.”
And Professor Tim Lang of London’s City University told The Guardian newspaper “The stakes are very high; these are additives that children have been exposed to for years. I can understand the FSA wanting to be sure no one can accuse it of breaking scientific protocols, but these findings need to come out quickly.”
In our Myths of Convenience Newsletter we outlined some of the harmful effects of commonly-used food additives including artificial colors. In addition to the behavioral effects seen by the British researchers, we linked to studies showing that artificial colors also damage the DNA of the colon’s cells, which may be a precursor to cancerous changes. Many researchers believe that extensive use of food additives, especially artificial colors, is largely responsible for the significantly elevated incidence of colon cancer in the industrialized Western world.
In fact, it is well documented in the scientific literature that the bacteria which resides in our gastrointestinal tract can break many common food dyes down in to pre-cancerous substances.
(Note: Many artificial food colors are characterized as “azo dyes,” as in the above study).
And while researchers and journalists are often quick to point out the fact that artificial colors and preservatives are commonly found in nutrient-poor junk foods, relatively little attention seems to be given to the fact that these same additives are often found in products which are marketed as healthy, like nutritional supplements, protein powders, and protein drinks.
Mother Nature Always Bats Last
Without much fanfare in the media, the scientific research has been accumulating for decades indicating that perhaps the artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives which we as a society have so unquestioningly embraced, may have more of a dark side than we’ve been led to believe. And maybe, just maybe, the epidemic of ill-health, disease, and behavioral and mood disorders in which we find ourselves immersed would improve dramatically if we dedicated ourselves to choosing only foods and supplements produced with natural, high-quality and nutritious ingredients.
But as a natural progression of our passivity, even the growing field of nutritional supplements has become increasingly plagued with these artificial additives – a trend we at Integrated Supplements are intent on combating. We feel that, like the old saying goes, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
So, not only do we produce the highest quality, all-natural nutritional supplements available, but we are dedicated to helping you incorporate them into a balanced diet of nutritious and minimally processed foods – the only way to reach your full human potential.
It can certainly be difficult to see through some of the marketing propaganda which passes as “nutritional science” these days, (soy is a good example of this) but the bottom line is that instead of “better living through chemistry” maybe the axiom guiding our food and supplement choices in the future should be “nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”