Health Tips: Change Children's Behavior Through Diet

While it is well known that synthetic dyes negatively impact the behavior of children who already have short attention spans and are generally hyperactive, it’s not only children with ADHD who benefit from a “clean” diet.

A study recently published in the British medical journal Lancet shows that food additives can trigger hyperactive behavior in all children. These findings alarmed the

European Union; now all foods containing synthetic food dyes must state that they “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

In the United States, a Food and Drug Administration panel recently concluded that synthetic food dyes can have a detrimental effect on some children’s behavior, but the panel narrowly rejected warning labels on foods containing these additives.

Since no warning labels will appear, what can parents do to avoid harmful chemicals in their child’s food? “Parents should not give in to the temptation to buy brightly-colored, processed foods just because their children are attracted to them,” says Jan Hersey, a mother of a child whose behavior improved incredibly after cutting out synthetic chemicals.

Reading the ingredients is also key. Avoid Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Blue #2, Green #3, BHT, TBHQ, and BHA.

One thing to add to a child’s (and adult’s) diet to aid in attention span and activity level is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Research published in the Journal of Attention Disorders has also shown that supplementation with essential fatty acids can result in a reduction of ADHD symptoms in some children.

Other good sources of essential fatty acids include canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and fish.