Adding fuel to a long-simmering debate, a British study has found that additives in sweets and soft drinks can indeed produce hyperactivity and disruptive behavior in children. The findings were so dramatic that the British government is issuing guidelines warning parents of kids with behavioral problems to avoid foods containing the additives, the Guardian reports.
Children from 3 to 9 years old were given mixtures of additives, including food colorings and sodium benzoate, a preservative used in soft drinks, in amounts comparable to what they might eat in a typical day. Some children showed significantly more disruptive behavior; some didn't. The altered behavior occurred in both children who had been diagnosed as hyperactive and some who had not. The study is detailed in this month's Lancet.