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FDA examines question of artificial food coloring and hyperactivity

March 30, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
(Chris Walker / McClatchy-Tribune )

Are food dyes linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children? The Food and Drug Administration is publicly considering that question for the first time in years. 

From yellow to purple, artificial dyes have been used for decades to make all kinds of foodstuff more visually palatable, including Cheetos and Lucky Charms. They’re a nearly inescapable feature of any diet rich in packaged, brightly colored foods – but some consumer groups, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2008, have argued that the dyes are responsible for making children hyperactive.

The theory first rose to prominence about four decades ago, when Dr. Benjamin Feingold proposed a diet for children that did not included dyed foods. Studies have appeared to show a link between food dyes and hyperactivity. But critics have argued that such data are flawed because they don't sort out which dyes in particular are responsible for the apparent changes in behavior.

A panel of researchers is meeting Wednesday and Thursday to consider the issue. Meanwhile, have you ever noticed a relationship between dyed foods and non-dyed foods, or think it’s hogwash? Does more research need to be done first? Post your thoughts below.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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