In the early 1970s, an allergist, based on observation of his patients, first proposed that food dyes and other chemicals in food can trigger symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. That hypothesis generated enormous interest among parents and researchers.
The first controlled studies of behavioral effects of dyes on children with suspected sensitivities were conducted in the late 1970s. More than 30 studies were conducted over the following several decades. Two large studies done in the United Kingdom found that dyes appear to affect the behavior of children in the general population.
Since FDA last examined the issue in 2011, eight major independent analyses, including two meta-analyses, concluded that excluding food dyes, or a diet that eliminates dyed foods and certain other foods and ingredients, reduces adverse behavior in some children.
The mounting evidence has led to a growing consensus among researchers, physicians, psychologists, and others who treat patients with such behavioral disorders as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that avoidance of food dyes benefits some children.
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