Article

Dietary Sensitivities and ADHD Symptoms: Thirty-five Years of Research

Department of Foods & Nutrition, Purdue University, 700 State Street (G-46), West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.
Clinical Pediatrics (Impact Factor: 1.15). 12/2010; 50(4):279-93. DOI: 10.1177/0009922810384728
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Artificial food colors (AFCs) have not been established as the main cause of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but accumulated evidence suggests that a subgroup shows significant symptom improvement when consuming an AFC-free diet and reacts with ADHD-type symptoms on challenge with AFCs. Of children with suspected sensitivities, 65% to 89% reacted when challenged with at least 100 mg of AFC. Oligoantigenic diet studies suggested that some children in addition to being sensitive to AFCs are also sensitive to common nonsalicylate foods (milk, chocolate, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, legumes) as well as salicylate-containing grapes, tomatoes, and orange. Some studies found "cosensitivity" to be more the rule than the exception. Recently, 2 large studies demonstrated behavioral sensitivity to AFCs and benzoate in children both with and without ADHD. A trial elimination diet is appropriate for children who have not responded satisfactorily to conventional treatment or whose parents wish to pursue a dietary investigation.

    • "Interest was again rekindled when a later study found a significant association between synthetic food colorings and parent-rated ADHD symptoms (Schab & Trinh, 2004). A 2011 qualitative review found that a subgroup of children diagnosed with ADHD may be sensitive to these additives and could benefit from a restricted diet (Stevens, Kuczek, Burgess, Hurt & Arnold, 2011). A meta-analysis including only double-blind, placebocontrolled randomized trials approximated that 33% of children with ADHD may respond clinically to dietary interventions, though only 8% have symptoms related to synthetic food colors (Nigg, Lewis, Edinger & Falk, 2012). "
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    • "Although the contribution to behavioural disturbances is still controversial [9], evidence suggests that AFD consumption increases the risk of behavioural change in children [10]–[13]. Earlier reports indicated that children with ADHD may show above-average sensitivity to AFDs [14], while other findings suggested that AFDs may affect healthy populations as well [15]. In particular, previous studies showed that AFD consumption results in increased motor activity [15]–[16]. "
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