Danger to children from food and drink additives is exposed
Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent
Thursday September 6, 2007
Parents are to be warned of the dangers of giving their young children drinks, sweets and cakes containing specified artificial additives
, as a result of new findings being made public for the first time today which confirm their link with hyperactivity and disruptive behaviour.
The release of the new public health advice follows the results of the biggest UK study into the links between hyper-activity and chemical food additives, which was commissioned by the government and published today in the medical journal the Lancet.
Hyperactivity is a behaviour officially indicated by increased movement, impulsiveness and inattention, and can impair learning.
For their research, scientists from Southampton University recorded the responses of 153 three-year-olds and 144 eight to nine year-olds to mixes of additives placed in different drinks; they found that artificial food colour and additives were having "deleterious effects".
The children drank mixtures of additives, which included artificial colourings and the preservative sodium benzoate, which is commonly used in soft drinks. The mixtures were designed to reflect what a typical child might eat in the course of a normal day.The results of the study show that when the children were given the drinks containing the test mixtures there was an increase in hyperactivity.