Food colors and hyperactivity
Research states a possible link between specific artificial food colors and hyperactivity problems among children. If you notice that your child is overactive and finds it hard to concentrate, cutting down food colors in their diet can help.
Food colors that lead to hyperactivity
Research by the Food Standards Agency, the following six food colors are most likely linked with hyperactivity among children:
E102 – tartrazine
- E104 – quinoline yellow
- E110 – sunset yellow FCF
- E122 – carmoisine
- E124 – ponceau 4R
- E129 – allura red
The colors mentioned above are in multiple foods, including sweets, soft drinks, ice cream, and cake
Should children avoid these food colors?
If a child is hyperactive or has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), evidence suggests that avoiding these six food colors might help. But it is also crucial to be aware that:
- Hyperactivity can have multiple causes, including genetics, so food colors are probably only a part of the problem.
- Removing food colors from children’s diets will not necessarily improve behavior.
- The link between food colors and hyperactivity is not entirely certain; there should be more research.
- You shouldn’t avoid all the E numbers, there are hundreds of them, and most E doesn’t cause hyperactivity.
If you feel like your child’s diet affects their behavior, keep a diary of what they consume and how their behavior changes throughout, so you can see the patterns. Avoid these colors if you find any possible link between food color and their behavior. But don’t make any drastic changes; consult a doctor for medical advice before changing your child’s diet.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022