A group study from the School of Psychology of the University of Southampton set out to clear a question that’s been left unanswered for 30 years or so: Do food additives contribute to children’s hyperactivity? As you might expect, the answer is a pretty firm ‘yes’. While kids in this double-blind placebo-controlled trial did not exhibit uniform reactions to additives (mostly sodium benzoate), the evidence is strong that our ubiquitous preservatives and food colorings do affect our body’s chemistry.
Some questions remain; such as why some children exhibited no effects while others’ reactions ranged from mild to notable, and whether there exists any kind of genetic trait that leads to susceptibility, but this is another clear reminder that we’ve grown overly cavalier regarding what we allow manufacturers to add to our food supplies.
For a good rundown on the study (as well as it’s backstory), you might check out this concise write-up from Slate.
If you’re curious, the image is that of the chemical makeup of Tartrazine, (otherwise known as Yellow Dye #5), via the Molecule of the Day blog.