Food preservatives linked to hyperactivity
Common food preservative mixed with artificial coloring found in ice cream, soda and candy associated with hyperactivity in kids, says study.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The widely-used food preservative sodium benzoate has been linked to hyperactivity in children, according to a study from British researchers.
Sodium benzoate, when combined with various food dyes, such as "sunset yellow" and "allura red," was associated with increased hyperactive behavior in children, in a study conducted by scientists at the University of Southampton in England.
"We now have clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colors and benzoate preservative can adversely influence the behavior of children," said Dr. Jim Stevenson, psychology professor at the University of Southampton and author of the study, in a press release. "We have now shown that for a large group of children in the general population, consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colors and benzoate preservative can influence their hyperactive behavior."
The study used food colors that are commonly found in soda, candy and ice cream, according to the Food Standards Agency, a British watchdog organization that funded the experiment with a $1.5 million grant. The results were published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, on Sept. 6.
The six-week study tracked 153 3-year-olds and 144 8-year-olds in Southampton, who represented "the full range of behavior, from normal to hyperactive," according to the university. The kids were put on a diet that was kept free from the additives used in the study and given one drink per day, which was either fruit juice or a mixture of benzoate preservative and food coloring. The children were not aware which drinks they received.
"The results of the Southampton study show that when the children were given the drinks containing the test mixtures, in some cases their behavior was significantly more hyperactive," said the university.
The test mixture contained sodium benzoate (E211) mixed with some of the following food dyes: sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122,) allura red (E129,) tartrazine (E102) and ponceau 4R (E124,) according to the Food Standards Agency.
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