Parents have been warned of the effects of food additives on their children's behaviour after new research found a possible link to hyperactivity.
A Food Standards Agency (FSA) study of 300 random children found they behaved impulsively and lost concentration after a drink containing additives. The FSA now says hyperactive children might benefit from fewer additives. But experts said drugs rather than diet changes could improve behaviour more effectively in the most severe cases.
Dr Andrew Wadge, the FSA's chief scientist, said: "We have revised our advice to consumers: if a child shows signs of hyperactivity or ADHD then eliminating the colours used in the... study from their diet might have some beneficial effects."
He did say though there were many factors associated with hyperactivity including genes, being born prematurely, environment and upbringing. The FAS has met representatives of the UK food industry to talk about the study's implications, but food safety campaigners say it has not gone far enough.
Emma Hockridge, of the Soil Association, said the FSA should be taking a leading role in addressing the issue by undertaking initiatives to prevent the development of hyperactive disorders, through new policies to limit food additives.
The Food Commission called on food manufacturers to voluntarily remove additives from their products.
A spokesman said: "These artificial colourings may brighten up processed foods and drinks but it appears they have the potential to play havoc with some children's behaviour."
Source - BBC