Chemicals in Food are Shown to Affect Children

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  One of the under the radar health stories from last year has to do with food additives and their effect on children. Maybe the publicity was minimum because most people would read a headline like this one and say "duh". It is interesting, however, in that it seemed to show many of the behavioral changes blamed on sugar in food might actually be the fault of other ingredients.

Many parents have long believed that certain high sugar foods can cause children to become hyped up and inattentive. The study purported to show that it is not the sugar that causes the most trouble, but the fact that most high sugar foods that children eat also contain chemical colorings and preservatives. In my mind the anecdotal evidence from raising of my own children does not completely let sugar off the hook.

A team of researchers in Great Britain determined that young children’s behavior is directly effected by their intake of artificial coloring and preservative chemicals. The three to nine year old children were given one of three drinks. One contained a common food preservative, another, a widely used food color, and the third was free of chemicals. None of the three contained sugar.

Using a standard and widely accepted test for attention, results showed that the students who drank the food preservative or coloring were easily measured to have more than double the level of hyperactivity as the children given the coloring and preservative free drink. The results also showed that some children were less affected by the additives than others. On average though, the level hyperactivity in children given the chemicals was more than double the level of children consuming fruit drinks without the chemicals. This was shown to be true regardless of the age of the children.

I know that these chemicals have been tested and claimed to not cause harm to humans. The good old FDA has of course cleared their use, but studies like this do make you wonder. Maybe they don’t kill you, make you turn green, or cause you to grow an extra eyeball, but do you really want to be consuming these chemicals?  I don’t.

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Will Sig
1 Jennifer Robin

The big bad boy we’ve been trying to avoid like the plague is high fructose corn syrup. I’m convinced it is the root of many problems, along with artificial flavors. Preservatives scare me a little less, maybe because they do seem to be a more necessary evil.

Jennifer Robins last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

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2 JD

It constantly amazes me how willing people are to participate in essentially wide spread experimentation with their health and their children’s health.

Our capitalist economy, including the food industry, is based on the concept of Creative Destruction. Put simply, this means that as products, or in this case, ingredients become ubiquitous they become cheaper. We all remember how much blank CD’s and DVD’s used to cost, right? This usually works well for consumers by quickly making exotic technology and products easily obtained. I still remember the first day I noticed that my local convenience store carried 3-Packs of blank writable CDs. Treating the food industry the same way, however, concerns me.

This means that companies that produce the flavorings and preservatives and colorings in food need to constantly develop “new and improved” offerings in oder to maintain stable or increasing profits.

For much of human history, we have had generations and generations of food consumption on which to base the safety and desirability of various foods. It’s only been a couple hundred years since Pellagra was killing people in Europe after the introduction maize to people’s diets without the proper preparation to unlock the nutrients in the grain.

We now are introducing new chemicals and molecular forms to our bodies so fast and for such short – historically speaking – periods of time that it becomes nearly impossible to track down exactly what, if any, problems are being caused by food we feed ourselves and our kids.

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3 Swubird

Will:

A agree with you all the way on this one. Food additives are questionable and should be avoided whenever possible. On a slightly different subject, my daughter (a practicing microbiologist) recently told me that something boils off the insides of plastic water bottles that have been left in the sun. I forget what it was, but she said that it’s definitely not good for human consumption. Have you heard anything about this?

Swubirds last blog post..VANISHED!

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4 Will

Hi Swubird – I am glad you posted that. I have heard that as a problem in addition to all the other reasons not to use the plastic water bottles. Having a microbiologist back that up gives it more weight. I have mentioned it to the girls on my daughter’s soccer team but I don’t know if it has made any of them think about it. So many bring a plastic bottle of water to practice and them just throw it down in the sun. Usually the have partially frozen the bottle beforehand, so maybe that lessens this particular risk. But, I have read that you should not freeze the plastic bottles water comes in because that affects the plastic also. Best just not to use them.

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5 Will

JD – You are exactly right. But the thing about it is that most us end consumers do not think about the potential risks. People are just not apt to analyze it, they just go with the easiest, fastest, cheapest, product. It does not seem to matter if it is CDs or dinner!

Even most people I with whom I talk about this, even though they are nice about it, seem to think I am worrying about nothing. Once in a while someone will even dispute concerns like this saying something like this. “Look how long people are living right now. My parents have been exposed to this stuff and worse for a long time and they are healthy and 85 years old now.”

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6 Will

Yes Robin, the HFCS is one that I tell everyone to avoid like the plague also, except it is not as easy to avoid as fleas! It is something that has immediate bad influence on your body. Big negatives are on blood sugar levels and pre-diabetes conditions.

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7 Anna

Hey Will for the third time [I been pressing something and loosing my comment, lol], this is excellent post. I myself and my husband been staying from chemical additives for a long time now, we always read and read labels, as our shopping takes sometimes long time, lol. BTW, our body is chemistry, so introduction of other chemicals may cause chemical imbalance. Anna 🙂 PS I like that study…..

Annas last blog post..Give A Goat for Christmas

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8 Sheila

Color, in our food, does cause some type of chemical imbalance. I have seen it with my daughter (who is now an adult). When my daughter was young, she was a busy little girl. I called her my human pinball, because she never stopped! When I began too look into this situation was the day my daughter’s grade 2 teacher approached me, concerned with my daughter’s behavior in class. She said, “I don’t know what to do with your daughter! In the time the whole class took a 10 problem math quiz, she was at her desk, over at the blackboard, by the reading couch, etc. I (her teacher) wanted to give her heck, but I couldn’t because she had completed all 10 math problems in the same time the rest of the students did, with all this additional activity!”

Then I found a study about color in food, causing an imbalance in the brain and causing hyperactivity. I removed the color from all of our food; read every label while grocery shopping, also went to a butcher for our meat, and did not purchase any processed meat. Three weeks after removing the color from her diet, my child was quiet. Her Grade 2 teacher approached me again, stunned, wondering what I did to her, because she actually sat for the whole 10 question math quiz. My family thought I was crazy for doing this; “A little color won’t hurt” is what I was told! Then one day my mother gave my daughter an ice cream sandwich (vanilla ice cream has color in it), she started running around the house all over again, like a human pinball. My mother was convinced then! No more food color or dye for my child.

I have always wondered if other children that have been tested and told they have ADD or ADHD, if color removal from their diet would have helped them!?

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9 Will

Sheila, that is an amazing story! I had to reread my post since it was so long ago. I can’t believe I made that extra eyeball comment! But I think some parents have intuitively known this for a long time. The sad thing is that until a few studies like this have been published, had you made you deductions widely known, you would have been thought a bit nutty. Real food is good for you. Processed food is not. This approach to diet would solve so many health issues.

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