Eating Ourselves to Death: Color of Controversy

From red sports drinks to orange Jell-O, and do not forget the yellow in mac and cheese. In all, we have nine different artificial dyes approved for use here in the United States. But are these colors causing problems in our kids?

They are at the top of their game now, but once were labeled unfocused, unruly, and hyper. No one knows what causes ADHD, but more than five million kids have it.

Christian Sleipnes was diagnosed when he was four. Then, his mom read about the possible link between ADHD and food dyes. She eliminated them from her son's diet.

"We are willing to try anything," explains Katherine Sleipnes Christian’s Mother.

Most of the dyes are made from petroleum and used for no other purpose than to make our food look better. So could they really be putting our kids' health at risk?

"Whether it's Cheetos, or gummy bears, or Kool-Aid, it is very difficult for a child that has a normal American diet to avoid using these types of dyes," says Daniel Bober, DO, Pediatric Psychiatry at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.

An FDA advisory committee determined evidence of food dyes causing hyperactivity in kids was inconclusive. The European Parliament demands that foods with certain dyes contain warning labels.

"If they already have ADHD, that food dyes could exasperate their symptoms," explains Dr. Bober.

The color industry says the problem is not the dye. They turned down an interview with us, but an official was quoted as saying, "We do not see any strong compelling data at this point that there is a neurological effect.”

Christian has been dye-free for months and his mom has noticed he is more focused and less distracted. Whether or not you believe there is a link between the two, the only color that matters is green. If consumers want change, they will show it with the foods they buy.

Overseeing the safety of artificial food color was one of the reasons behind founding the FDA back in the 1930's. Fast forward to the 1950’s, and investigations became the agency's sole focus

The group says it needs more research before making any final decisions on the affects.

Eating Ourselves to Death: Color of Controversy
REPORT #1959

BACKGROUND: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common condition that affects children and adolescents and can continue into adulthood for some. Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating. Adults suffering from ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions. (SOURCE:
SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of ADHD fall into three groups:

* Lack of attention (inattentiveness)
* Hyperactivity
* Impulsive behavior (impulsivity)

Some children with ADHD primarily have the inattentive type. Others may have a combination of types. Those with the inattentive type are less disruptive and are more likely to not be diagnosed with ADHD. (SOURCE:

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. It affects about 3 - 5% of school aged children. ADHD is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls. (SOURCE:

ADHD AND FOOD DYE: A study by the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency, in 2007, showed that the consumption of foods containing dyes could increase hyperactive behavior in children. Based on the results of this study, the U.K. Food Standards Agency advised parents of children with ADHD to eliminate food additives from their child's diet. The Agency also encouraged companies to remove artificial coloring from food products. In the U.S., though, the FDA still considers artificial food colors to be safe when used properly. (SOURCE:

TREATMENT: A combination of medication and behavioral treatment works best. There are several different types of ADHD medications that may be used alone or in combination. Psychostimulants (also known as stimulants) are the most commonly used ADHD drugs. Although these drugs are called stimulants, they actually have a calming effect on people with ADHD. (SOURCE:

For More Information, Contact:

Jodi Caico
Practice Manager
Psychiatric Consultants of Florida, LLC
(954) 967-6776

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