Food dyes and ADHD

Which food dye is bad for a child with ADHD?

From: Elaine.

We are afraid that probably more than one dye, and some preservatives, as well, are suspicious. There is a list proposed in the Feingold diet. This list includes some preservatives together with the food dyes.

Food dyes in the Feingold diet list

Amaranth E123
Annato E160 ( b)
Black PN E151
Brilliant Blue FCF E133
Brown FK E154
Brown HT E155
Caramel E150
Carmoisine E122
Cochineal E120
Erythrosine E127
Indigo Carmine E132
Ponceau 4R E124
Quinoline yellow E104
Red 2G E128
Sunset yellow E110
Tartrazine E102
Yellow 2G E107


Benzoic acid E210
Butylated hydroxyanisole E320
Butylated hydroxytoluene E321
Sodium benzoote E211
Sodium nirate E251
Sodium nitrite E250
Sulphur dioxide E220

Food coloring linked to HA

Sunset yellow E110
Carmoisine E122
Tartrazine E102
Ponceau 4R E124
Quinoline yellow E104
Allura red AC E129


There are other additives potentially dangerous for asthmatic people or those sensitive to aspirin that could be added to this list.

Some studies seemed to contradict Feingold's theory and conclude that a diet free of food dyes did not make any change. However, more work needs to be done in this area as there are other studies that have found a relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity. The most recent to come to mind was published in 2207 study in the UK and found six colourings common in sweets and drinks do have an impact in hyperactivity levels.

What is the Feingold diet?

Ben Feingold was an American allergist. He observed that many children with hyperactivity symptoms were also sensitive to aspirin. He postulated a diet free o salicylates -chemical composition similar to aspirin- should help those children. Salicylates are naturally present in some fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Feingold also observed that some additives, even if they were not similar to aspirin, affected hyperactive children in the same way. His approach was trying to help hyperactive children get better without drugs and devised a diet that excluded all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and food with natural salycilate -although food with salicylates is only out of the menu for the first few weeks, the introduced an item at a time.

His works are controversial. Supporters of his methods claim some of the trials done to prove his theories false tested the method only partially.

Read and form your opinion.

Managing ADD with diet