Kids don't need much help getting hyper--they're bundles of energy, and they don't come with an "off" button.
But some foods can put them into overdrive, turning an already amped-up child into a full-blown monster--and there's one ingredient in particular that parents need to watch out for: artificial coloring.
Finally, an FDA panel has agreed that food dyes are responsible for rotten behavior and even ADHD-like symptoms in at least some kids... but don't expect them to actually do anything about it.
Instead of calling for warning labels or even an outright ban on artificial colors as some scientists and parents groups want, the panel called for more research.
That's code for "we're getting uncomfortably close to upsetting our pals in the food industry, so let's stop right here."
But we don't need more studies, because researchers have been chasing the artificially colored rainbow for years--and there's no pot o' gold on the other side... just some of the rottenest little leprechauns you've ever seen.
For example, two studies out of the U.K. found that kids given foods that contain artificial dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate start to climb the walls.
Those studies and others like them helped move Europe light years ahead of us-- and foods with artificial colors sold there now carry labels that say they "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children."
That's a frightening thought when you consider that some foods can have up to nine different artificial colorings--and they're not all in cereals and Jell-O.
You might know that cheese isn't normally day-glo yellow... but you may not realize that artificial colors are used regularly in everything from pickles to salmon.
That's right--salmon: Farm-raised fish are fed dye pellets to give them the nice pink color their wild brethren have naturally.
Of course, there's a much larger issue here and that's the fact that dyed foods are almost always processed foods--and you and your kids shouldn't be eating them anyway, no matter what kinds of colors are in them (or even if they contain no colors at all).
As bad as dyes are, there are plenty of other ingredients that are far worse-- including the sugars and starches that make up the bulk of the modern American diet.
Give this junk to a kid, and he could end up so nutritionally deficient that you're bound to see problems ranging from mood disorders to ADHD-like symptoms-- even if the foods they eat contain no dyes at all.