I love coffee but haven’t touched the stuff since 1989. It used to make me so hyper that I could perform two people’s job at the same time. In fact, I often did.
Even decaf will leave me unable to sleep at night. Same thing with green and black teas.
The only caffeine I allow in my diet is small bits of dark chocolate, which I must eat in early morning. Otherwise, I won’t be able to sleep.
Because of my experiences with caffeine, it’s easy for me to understand how drastically food products can impact one’s mood. So when I read about studies that claim food additives can increase a child’s hyperactivity, I’m not the least bit surprise.
I first reported on the phenomenon early in the life of this blog. The British, though, are clearly leaders in this area of research.
Now, a follow-up study, financed by Britain’s Food Standards Agency, has further reinforced the idea that certain food additives, colorings and preservatives contribute to hyperactivity in children, reports The New York Times.
The dosages given kids 3-, 8-, and 9-years old were relatively small: the equivalent of one to two servings of candy. The impact, though was loud and clear:
The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives.
And this is for small amounts of the additives. How much does the average kid consume each day?
My kids consume close to none. That’s because we do not buy products with artificial preservatives. Heck, I don’t even like giving our kids apple juice, since it makes them noticeably more hyper and grumpy.
Despite the study’s results, one American expert seems more worried about socialization of kids than chemicalization.
“Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child’s life?” Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital, asks the Times. “Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”
Excuse me, but is keeping crap out of your kid’s bodies ostracizing them or contributing to lifelong health? Is giving them the ability to concentrate through class ostracizing or improving their educational opportunities? Is Dr. Spencer implying that it is better to put these kids on hyperactivity medicine rather than to just remove the culprit from their diet?
What kind of insane society do we live in where we keep toxic chemicals in food all for the benefit of our children’s “socialization?”
Fortunately, parents with hyperactive kids have long suspected that these additives contribute to their parenting woes. Writes the Times:
It was the first time researchers conclusively and scientifically confirmed a link that had long been suspected by many parents. Numerous support groups for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have for years recommended removing such ingredients from diets, although experts have continued to debate the evidence.
But the new, carefully controlled study shows that some artificial additives increase hyperactivity and decrease attention span in a wide range of children, not just those for whom over activity has been diagnosed as a learning problem.
I bet parents with ADHD kids are not worried about how not having a candy bar or soda at lunch will impact their kids socialization. In fact, I bet most of these parents already work day and night to keep all the crap on the market out of their kids’ hands. And I bet their kids are better socialized because of their increased ability to concentrate and get along with their classmates.
Now, with evidence in hand, maybe the remaining parents will join in the battle to get junk out of our food supply.