Synthetic colourings, additives effect children's behaviour:Research

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London, Dec 13(UNI) Food additives found in sweets and soft drinks like colourings and preservatives might lead to behavioural problems such as hyperactivity, lack of concentration, temper tantrums and allergic reactions among the children, suggests a research.

The latest study, conducted for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has reiterated the findings of earlier research which had raised doubts about the safety of some food colourings and a widely-used preservative.

However, despite their potential implications for children's health, the results will not be available to consumers until they have been published in a scientific journal - a process which could take several months.

Independents experts meanwhile, have advised parents to shun such food items from their children's menu as a precautionary measure.

Researchers at Southampton University estimated an average child's daily intake of synthetic colourings and preservatives to measure what effect they might have on behaviour.

The colours, tested on three year olds and eight-to-nine year olds, were tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129). The preservative tested was sodium benzoate (E211), which is found in many sweets, drinks and processed foods in the UK, reported Telegraph.

The additives are all approved for use by the EU, although some of the colours are banned in the US and Scandinavian countries.

The Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HACSG), a charity which advocates a dietary approach to the problem of hyperactivity, has long demanded long ago for the removal of such substances from children's diet.

FSA's Mr Vyvyan Howard said consumers were free to choose to avoid the additives before the results were published.

Mr Howard, also Professor of bio-imaging at Ulster University, said, ''It is biologically plausible that there could be an effect from these additives. While you are waiting for these results to come out you can choose not to expose your child to these substances. These compounds have no nutritional value and I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter.'' Another member of the group, Dr Alex Richardson, a senior research scientist at Oxford University, said the potential risks from the additives were well-documented.

He told the newspaper that in his view the researchers had done an excellent piece of work first time round and there was enough evidence to act.

''If this study essentially replicates that, what more evidence do they need to remove these additives from children's food and drink?'', inquired Dr Richardson.

A spokeswoman for the FSA said the agency hoped the findings would be published in a matter of months.

She added that the FSA was ''committed to handling science in the proper scientific way.'' The first trial, known as the Isle of Wight study, concluded that the removal of colourings and additives from children's diets could lead to ''significant changes'' in their behaviour.

However, the CoT decided in 2002 that the results were inconclusive and ordered a new study.

Mounting consumer concerns have led to the retailers reviewing their policies on artificial colours and flavourings. One of the biggest supermarket chain Salisbury have already banned them from its own-brand soft drinks.

UNI

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