Artificial  Dye Effect on Behavior

A multitude of studies have focused on whether artificial coloring in food leads to behavioral issues in susceptible children. Of these, a 2007 United Kingdom study linked hyperactivity in children to artificial food colors and prompted the Foods Standard Agency (FSA), the European version of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to recommend a voluntary ban on use of artificial coloring in foods.

In the U.S. the topic led to the FDA Food Advisory and Safety Committee to meet in 2011 to review available literature, evaluate scientific studies, and to consider both expert and public opinion to determine “whether available relevant data demonstrate a link between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives in food and adverse effects on behavior”.

Results of the hearing suggested that more study be undertaken to examine the effects of dyes on behavior but scientific study aside, there are many who report personal stories that artificial dye consumption results in behavioral issues including hyperactivity, attention deficit, irritability, and lack of attention. Arguably, these symptoms could also roll up to larger behavioral problems such as altered relationships with peers, decreased performance in school and/or negative effects on home life in general.

The U.S. has seen a five fold increase in the use of artificial dyes in foods over the past 50 years. Of note, it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that Attention Deficit (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms were first formally recognized in the medical and academic settings and incidence has increased since that time.

The topic of the effect of artificial dyes on children’s behavior makes the television and print news on a regular basis with a partial listing of videos and articles below:


Chicago Tribune: Do Diet Changes Help ADHD Children?  May 22, 2013

WZZM 13 ABC: Red Dye 40 and ADHD – May 6th, 2012

The Dr. Oz Show: Food Dyes: Are They Safe? . March 14, 2012
CBS New York: Brain Food: Linking Diet With Disorder  – Video. Aug 14, 2012
WebMD: Is There an ADHD Diet? January 9, 2012
Allergy Kid Foundation: Seeing Red: One Mothers Investigates Food Dyes. December 2, 2012
ABC News: Foods Your Kids Should Avoid. January 20, 2012
Chicago Tribune: Food Dyes and Hyperactivity. April 11, 2011.
The Center for Science in The Public Interest (CSPI): Food Dyes, A Rainbow of Risks – 2010