Don't Retract Pack

Artificial Colors Increase Hyperactivity

The Lancet
released a study that found artificial colors and sodium benzoate increase hyperactivity in both 3 year olds, and in 8 and 9 year olds.

The study included 153 3-year-olds and 144 8 and 9-year-olds. The challenge drinks contained one of two artificial food color additives (Mix A, Mix B) and sodium benzoate. Mix A and B were compared with the placebo mix. The outcomes were measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA), scores based on parent and teacher observations, and for 8 and 9 year olds, a computerized attention test.

Mix A significantly increased hyperactivity among the 3 year olds when compared with placebo, although this was not measured as significant with Mix B. Eight and 9 year old children experienced a significant increase in hyperactive behavior when given Mix A or Mix B.


"Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial."
The Lancet, Vol 370, Issue 9598, Pages 1560 - 1567.

Read Full Text Here


  1. Do you know how many children were in the study? science behind it? thanks!

  2. The number of children in the study are specified above in the article brief. The citation for the exact study is included at the bottom, along with a link for the full text that appeared in research journals.

  3. Oh, I wish they'd release what was included in each mix - I definitely notice a difference in my kids when they have certain colors (yellow, for example) and when it is ingested via liquid as opposed to solids. That's not to say that we try not to avoid coloring totally, but it can be difficult!

    It's interesting when a well-meaning family member or neighbor "treats" the kids to something, and I can give a countdown to uncontrollable behavior. When I can say, "Ok, in 10 minutes, you're going to see a totally different little girl. And then 15 minutes later she will cry and cry, and then she will have a headache" is usually when people believe me.