HealthWatch: Food Dye And ADHD

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Children love to indulge in tasty treats, but now there could be a link between dyes in those foods and hyperactivity, Dr. Max Gomez reports.

Seven-year-old Annabella Surovcik was so hard to control that her parents were at their wit’s end.

“This chaotic amount of energy just bouncing around and you weren’t able to direct,” said Greg Surovcik, Annabella’s father.

Annie, as her family calls her, has ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, with extreme impulsivity.

“Hitting, pinching, hair pulling, kicking, you could see it was an impulse that she just could not control it,” said Dianne Marino-Surovcik, Annabella’s mother.

There are parents and researchers who believe that behavioral problems like Annie’s are made worse by certain foods and especially by certain artifiical food colorings and dyes found in many processed foods.

Several studies have suggested a link between food dyes and ADHD symptoms but many experts say the studies are flawed.

“If you don’t actually know if you got food dye or no food dye, that we don’t actually see changes in behavior, either by parent report or by people that we train to go into schools and observe kids without them knowing what the kids got,” said Dr. Steven Kurtz of the Child Mind Institute.

In other words, when kids like Annie are observed by people who don’t know whether the child has eaten food dyes, the dyes seem to have no effect on behavior.

Instead of restricting Annie’s diet, her parents have used therapy and medication to help her.

“Annie is doing tremendous, she is feeling confident,” her father said.

“Amazing, she’s amazing, her grades are good at school,” her mother added.

Annie herself knows she’s doing better. “I feel happy because I stopped doing that stuff,” she said.

The Food and Drug Administration will ask an advisory panel to look at the science behind food additives and behavior problems in kids. An FDA panel generally asks for more research before the agency takes any action, and that can take years to complete.

Do you think there’s a link between ADHD and food dyes? Leave a comment below…

  • Sir Objective VI

    This is lunacy. These parents will make any excuse for the behavior of their malfunctioning children.

  • Mr Michael

    I work with elementary kids. Whenever we have a problem with kids at school…. hyper this or can’t focus that….The first thing we do is have the parents stop ALL food coloring, especially RED 3 and RED 40. NO RED ANYTHING, and have the parents stop all refined sugars and corn syrups. In 95% of the cases the kids settle down in about a month. Try to refining your child’s diet for a month before your place them on a drug.

  • john glennon

    the Brits have already banned certain dyes because of this very reason.

    As a former elementary school principal, I am quite aware that attention difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg. ADHD children can’t filter out distractions, finish tasks on-time, use their memory optimally, etc. Whether it’s genetics, food, dyes, allergies, is difficult to discern.

    My wife and I opted to use cognitive training for our son, Alex. We used Play Attention ( and ADHD Nanny ( We’ve been very successful with these approaches. We also changed our parenting skills with great success. the bottom line is that we can help them make changes no matter what the cause.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live