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Diatribe: Artificial Dyes In Candy Still Linked To Hyperactivity.


ArtificialDyesI was always taught that kids shouldn’t have sweets in the evening because it gave them too much energy and they wouldn’t get to sleep.  Of course, as a child, that never once kept me from enjoying any and every piece of chocolate that I could get my grubby hands on throughout the day.  This was always the time of year that stores stocked their shelves with “fun size” candy bars and “individually wrapped” portions of candies that often were not available to small children and I would make a mental inventory of what it was that I hoped to find in my stash at the end of the month.

Years ago, the medical community determined that it might not only be sugar in candies that give children the extra energy that they exhibit after eating too many sweets.  Petroleum-based artificial food dyes are found in everything from cereal, yogurt, and granola bars to candy, chips, and even children’s medicines.  Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that dyes can cause hyperactivity in sensitive children.  In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration acknowledges this but has refused to ban dyes or even require a warning notice on labels, as the European Union does for most dyes.

Products with Yellow 5, Red 40, Other Dyes “May Have an Adverse Effect on Activity and Attention in Children”

M&Ms, for example, are already made without most dyes in Europe but they are allowed to be manufactured with cheaper, controversial ingredients in North America.  Concerned mother Renee Shutters and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have started a petition to encourage Mars Incorporated, the company that manufactures M&Ms to stop using artificial dyes linked to hyperactivity in their candies.

PetitionRemoving artificial dyes from a child’s diet may do more to reduce inattentiveness and other attention span deficit symptoms than removing natural sugar.  So, this Halloween, we might do well to concentrate more on the type of candy we feed our children than on the quantity.

Do you believe sugar effects a child’s attention span?


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From → Diatribes

  1. I don’t know. I have a friend who has a child with Aspergers and she swears it’s all the artificial dyes and chemicals that affect her son’s behavior, but she doesn’t let him have much sugar either.

    I wasn’t a hyper child and I ate tons of sugary things over the course of my childhood, and I never really noticed it with my son. I would imagine some people are probably more sensitive than others. I do have a vivid memory of babysitting my young cousin and we had let her have some leftover Halloween candy and within an hour she was jumping around like a wild monkey. We all really noticed it. It’s been a long time, but I think she had Skittles.


  2. Did not notice it with the resident children but it was a common joke amongst us
    moms at play group or preschool. When they were in middle school and we hosted a creative problem solving team at our home a mom sent chocolate dipped strawberries as a snack. What a labor intensive, healthy snack to send 🙂 The kids sucked all the chocolate off the strawberries and left the berries behind…


  3. Great letter. Thanks for sharing the issue and the letter.


  4. Are you purposefully posting topics that you know will get me all up on my high horse lately? Ugh- I could go on ad nauseam on this one so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.
    There’s nothing on earth you could say that would convince me that food dyes (along with gluten and or dairy and or a list of many other things) don’t affect SOME children. Not all. As a kid I could eat the entire contents of a vending machine and be fine. My cousin could eat one red M&M and be a crazy person for 6 hours. My son, one tiny red skittle and god help us all I might murder that child. We cut out every color, sugar and artificial anything and it helped…marginally. Then, once he was diagnosed with his “issues” and I chose to accept them and made the hardest decision of my life (medicating that amazing little Tasmanian Devil) it changed. He can now eat the entire contents of a vending machine and throw a little Mountain Dew on top for kicks (I allow none of these things) and he’s still the same kid.
    Long story short: The dyes or whatever the intolerance is throws off the serotonin production in the brain and chaos ensues. It is what it is.

    And it’s criminal that the greed of our “decision makers” in this and most other matters in our country care more about the greed than our children.


    • I was always a heavy kid and my brother was thin as a rail. We sat at the same table and ate the same foods for most of our lives. The difference was always chalked up to “metabolism”. I’m glad that you learned how your son’s works as early as you did. I love the way you tell your stories!

      PS: I kinda like it when you get all up on your high horse. 😉


  5. I think every parent has to make the choice for their own children – but nothing wrong with encouraging manufacturers to use more natural ingredients. Reminds me of the scene from The Wedding Planner when the doctor says he only eats brown M & M’s because it’s the natural color of chocolate, so it must have less dyes.


    • I agree that every parent has to make choices for their own children. I also think it’s important that we teach them why we make the choices that we do so they learn to make informed decisions on their own. Moderation is the key.


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