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Parents say that food does affect their children's behaviour

January 2003

The following comments and experiences are examples from responses collected in a survey of members of the Food Commission's Parents Jury, in January 2003.

The Parents Jury is a jury of over 1,300 parents, with children between 2 and 16 years old, which seeks to improve the quality of children's foods and drinks. The Jury is co-ordinated by The Food Commission, an independent watchdog campaigning for healthier, safer food in the UK.

Note: In the interests of privacy, names have been omitted from survey responses.

At age 6, my son had a very strong reaction to Sunny Delight, a product I had refused to let him drink since aged about 3, when I noticed the ingredients. After drinking Sunny Delight, he changed from being a lively yet pleasing and agreeable child, to one totally unable to calm himself, understand reprimands and respond to direction. He was uncontrollable on a shopping trip. He calmed down the following day and the whole family has agreed never to drink Sunny Delight or buy it again. Aged 2 to 3 years, it's difficult when children visited friends - there was a desire to conform. Now aged 6 and 8, I reason with them and they understand. They saw the effect Sunny Delight had on my younger son and recognise the dangers of not being capable of responding to parents or to reasonable dangers.

My daughter had an almighty temper tantrum about 1 hour after consuming some Tesco's fruit flavoured fizzy water. We have completely avoided it since. Also, further reduction in all junk foods has definitely seen less tantrums and mood swings. It's easy to exclude these foods at home, but difficult when well-meaning adults offer junk food as a 'treat'.

My son gets very hyperactive, can't keep his body or limbs still. Becomes aggressive and 'high,' then gets very low and depressed as the initial 'hit' wears off. We tried removing additives from his diet and it helped! We usually know when he has had something just from his behaviour. However, it's hard to find basic foods without additives. Even squash, cheese, yoghurts and cereals can contain our 'banned' substances. I am also concerned about the long-term affect of food additives on health. Is there a 'build up' of them within the body? Are they broken down or do they accumulate?

I believe my child has suffered a reaction that seemed to be caused by food additives - odd behaviour which was out-of-character and unable to keep still.

My son's nursery offers biscuits called 'party rings'-I have yet to investigate the ingredients. He gets a red rash around his mouth. We've tried removing the additives - but fitting in at school is important too! I think school food will be a big problem - how can I tackle this without being labeled a fussy parent?

Squash and other products caused speeded up actions - boisterous - I could always tell if this drink was given to my child at school. My child is at school where this product is served, so it's difficult to exclude it from their diet. Also when visiting friends it is difficult to state what you will and won't have. I feel water should be promoted better especially in schools. I have read about 'water in school is cool' campaign and believe this campaign should have government backing. Children do not get enough opportunity to drink water at school.

Artificial colourings caused inability to relax, sleep, broken sleep, temper/aggressiveness. We removed them from our child's diet and yes, it has made a huge difference. Finding fruit juices/squashes which don't have artificial anything in them is difficult; other people give inappropriate sweets. It's a potential minefield when choosing foods, as practically all have an artificial flavouring or preservative added. It's hard to know what percentage/proportion of additive is acceptable to your child.

My child reacted to the food dye quinoline yellow. It was in penicillin when we first noticed the effect. It caused hyperactivity. The trouble is, it's in all sorts of unexpected places e.g. prawn cocktail crisps, so it's hard to anticipate what to exclude without reading the ingredients on absolutely everything.

My child becomes aggressive and hyperactive. If she avoids artificial colourings then she is 'normal.' One difficulty is stopping other people giving her sweets and treats. The main difficulty is the perception of other relations and friends without children that I am being mean not letting her have sweets.

Eczema flare ups, and behaviour and sleep problems were caused by additives in orange squash. Now, we don't have it at home and all symptoms have cleared up. I haven't had difficulties excluding these additives, but I do have to check labels.

My middle child had always been very active, but I had never considered it to be a serious problem. When he was five we went on holiday and went to do some shopping in a local supermarket. My son was totally uncontrollable, flailing his arms around, and I was unable to do anything to stop it. When we got home, I looked up hyperactivity in various books, and discovered that one of the common triggers was sodium benzoate. He had been drinking a lot of squash whilst on holiday which contained sodium benzoate.

I eliminated sodium benzoate from his diet. Artificial colourings were not a big issue at the time, as I very rarely buy prepared foods and he eats few sweets, so they were not a normal part of his diet. These days he is a different child. He had always come out of nursery at a run, with his head down, and head butted me by way of greeting. Now when he came out of school I got a cuddle!

After a few weeks he came home from school very fidgety and uncontrollable. I went in to see the school cook and identified the culprit as E124 (ponceau 4R) in the pudding he had eaten. For a long time, I could tell when he had eaten something he shouldn't at lunchtime, because the effects appeared about five hours later.
Interestingly, the effects of these additives (all benzene-based azo dyes or coal tar dyes) no longer follow the same pattern. Sometimes the reaction will be seen within an hour. Sometimes, if he only has a little of the chemical and hasn't had any of it for some weeks, he gets away with it.

Generally there were no difficulties in removing problem foods. Parties could be difficult, because so many commercial cakes and icings contain artificial colourings. Sadly natural food colourings do not seem to be available for the general public to buy. Financially I am penalized because I need to avoid artificial additives: cherries with anthocyanins are more expensive than those with E129, unbleached flour (flour is apparently often bleached with benzene) is more expensive than bleached flour (why?!), squash without preservatives is more expensive than that with preservatives.

Fortunately he hasn't needed any antibiotics in that three years since we discovered this problem. If he did need any, we would have to ensure that he had one without colourings, which most seem to contain. Most children's over the counter medicines and paracetamol preparations are also no-go areas. He does have antihistamines, which contain a small amount of sodium benzoate, but this doesn't seem to cause a problem.
I have never been able to find out what this tiny amount of chemical actually does to the brain to cause a change in behaviour. I'm sure someone must have done some research into it.

I suspect that this a far more widespread issue than many people think. I was skeptical until I had a child who was quite clearly affected by additives. I think there are probably millions of children out there with the same problem, and their parents and teachers just think of them as difficult. It is shameful that children should be labeled anti-social and badly behaved because manufacturers see it as necessary to colour food brightly and to make food last longer. The sooner we see a return to good, wholesome and safe food, the better. It is worth mentioning that cranberries, blueberries and bilberries are all natural sources of benzoic acid, and can cause the same reaction.

My son suffered from hyperactivity, inability to sleep, and was easily distracted by surroundings through lack of concentration. Removing foods from the diet helped dramatically ... although sometimes he wants a treat and generally they contain additives, which is quite disturbing. I negotiated with my son (aged 3) and replaced crisps with Bob the Builder crisps that do NOT contain preservatives or additives. Also added children's character Yogurt that do not contain these additives.

My child had an immediate full body skin reaction. Redness and itching which resolves only after a bath and antihistamine cream. It is not a response to the core foods as the pure foods alone do not cause this reaction. We removed foods - but as long as the same foods are freshly prepared the reaction does not happen. The reaction only occurs to some tinned or preserved foods. It means the loss of simple emergency foods that can be stored in the cupboard. Frozen stuff replaces these. I just have to be more organised.

We ran out of our usual squash and the local shop only had Kia-Ora. My son, then 2 1/2 years old had terrible tantrums and we ended up throwing the squash away. He then behaved as normal!! The drink made him have a quick temper, over reactive and easily upset. We now only have water or organic squash in the house.

My son reacted to a food colouring - anthocyanin - present in virtually all brands of red fruit squashes. He had a pin spot rash over most of his body, arms and all down his legs. By excluding the drinks, within a week the rash had gone. It is very difficult to find squash/drink that does not have the red colouring anthocyanin, but Kia-Ora and Nesquik use the natural colouring Beetroot and grape extract which does not cause a reaction. This colouring is present in other items that are coloured with red and I try to avoid it if at all possible. I do not like to buy squash due to the high levels of saccharin in them so I try and buy the least offensive brand as my son does like squash. He gets it very diluted though.

Incidentally - it is virtually impossible to buy infant paracetamol that is not loaded with artificial sweeteners and colourants, which makes my life very difficult when trying to find medicine that is good for my son to take. The trouble is, they want the foods because they appeal to little children.

Tartrazine (yellow food colouring) caused a severe reaction. The first time it happened, my child was shaking and banging his head against the wall - he was unable to stop moving, but was also completely aware of what was happening to him and was frightened by it, but unable to stop his body movements. It was terrifying for both him and people watching. On subsequent occasions, he was also hyperactive but the self-awareness had gone. On removing foods, the change was fairly dramatic and easy to identify. It was therefore easy to avoid the substances. Apart from having to read labels, I haven't had difficulty avoiding Tartrazine.

We suspect our 2-year-old in particular (also the 5-year-old, but more so when he was younger) becomes very hyper, then declining into highly bad-tempered and unreasonable, after a "coloured lolly". Effect seems to last several hours. However, we have not done enough experiments to isolate the effects of the colours and the sugar. Now, we generally avoid sweets, and avoiding both the sugar and the colours together definitely helps. The difficulty is other people! Nursery, parties, neighbours. Luckily however the eldest seems to have got less sensitive as he is more "out and about"

My four-year-old daughter is already highly active and becomes hyperactive, loud, and aggressive after only a few coloured sweets or one drink. It can take 24 hours to wear off. The effect is immediate and very noticeable. Her behaviour becomes almost manic. She is only like this if someone inadvertently gives her the foods above. It helped to remove the foods from her diet, but buying a nice pud as a treat is very difficult - nearly all have the colourings, e.g. canned strawberries, trifles, ice cream, etc.

Food additives contributed to Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), general behavioural difficulties, poor concentration, poor balance/coordination. I tried removing foods from her diet and yes, sometimes this resulted in complete amelioration of symptoms. These substances are non-nutrients and therefore should not be in our food!

The problem additive was colouring in an antibiotic. He also suffered severe urticoria after eating ketchup. He gets hives all over his body (urticoria) with the ketchup, and hyperactivity with the antibiotic.

Both of my children have suffered a reaction that seemed to be caused by food additives. It was like having a double whisky - they went pretty hyperactive, noisy, difficult to control, aggressive. I had to get help (from the Hyperactive Children's Support Group). I was in a state of not knowing what to do. I tried removing foods from their diet and it helped enormously. It's difficult though. They craved the foods and still do. I was like an addiction. The foods were brightly coloured and it was an azo dye allergy - foods such as orange squash, cola, refreshers, Smarties, tomato sauces. As a parent who has recently suffered I would like to lock food manufacturers in a room full of dye affected children for an hour. I nearly had a nervous breakdown over food dyes affecting my children.

Some food additives made him hyper and difficult. I am very careful with diet at home so it is only a rare problem. What's hard is that appealing foods are available at parties/friends houses, and trying to buy kids food in a café. I used to have problems with additives myself when I was a child. I used to be violently sick after eating anything with coal for colouring in it (E103 etc). I can't believe it hasn't been banned 20 years later!

My children suffered from hyperactivity and eczema caused by food additives. It is difficult to know which food is causing the problem and sometimes it is the food that the child likes best. My children hardly eat food or drink anything with additives in them after I discovered that this was causing them serious problems. I must say that it is a very big challenge to keep to this kind of diet.

My daughter went hyper, manic, almost racing round and acting totally out of character. It was amazing how quickly she reacted, probably partly to the sugar but also to whatever was in it. She became easily cross and was hard to get to sleep that night. She reacted to highly processed foods, e.g. Sunny Delight, sweets, etc, and I keep her off as much processed food as possible so reactions to specific problem are very noticeable i.e., She was given a Chuppa Chup lollipop by a doctor at the hospital…and later she went hyper. I have removed problem foods from her diet and it has definitely helped. I have tried never to introduce them. The only problems come when I go to other people's houses or go out generally. You just have to be careful. She wants the same stuff as her friends. Children's menus tend to be all highly processed fast food so it is difficult to eat out of home sometimes.

Both of my sons react to additives and colourings, especially blackcurrant and coke. Also orange squash. Additives in processed goods have affected them too. It turns them from calm, happy children into monsters. They get wild, cheeky and sometimes violent. After removing these things, they were a lot more cooperative and normal. They felt left out when watching their friends eat things that they are not allowed.

My son suffered from hyperactivity and violent behaviour. After removing the foods, the hyperactive behaviour disappears. "He is a different child", commented other parents at play group before we told them about diet changes. He can't have any sweets, most children's breakfasts. This makes for an impractical childhood and time-consuming shopping.

After eating blue Smarties, he got hyperactivity and symptoms of stress. The reaction lasted 4-6 hours. I know other mother who had the same experience and also decided to stop buying certain products.

My youngest son has anaphylactic reactions to milk, peanuts, eggs and fish we have to avoid any additives that are derived from these. My other son reacts to additives also. My older boy has eczema and we know that something that is added to some cheeses makes him have a very severe itching bout and generalised red skin. Yellow colourings also seem to have this effect. For the son who is anaphylactic he only consumes the additives we know are safe for him. The eczema certainly is better when we avoid these additives. Everyone comments on how well behaved they both are and I think in part this is due to avoiding additives.

There is a huge problem with insufficient labeling (i.e. only naming largest volume ingredients, or only using terms like vegetable margarine and not naming its contents). In-store-bakery and delicatessen items are impossible for my anaphylactic boy as the people selling them often cannot say what's inside the products. It appears that the higher price "premium" and organic brands are best but obviously there are cost issues here.
Eating out is virtually impossible unless the place is very accommodating and will let you read labels on their ingredients.

For supermarket purchases, recipes often change and all to alert you to this may be a small heading "New improved recipe", which can be easily missed. A particular problem we have is that it seems that whey is added to all sorts of foods that don't need it (e.g., apple pies). I feel that this is because the food industry doesn't know what else to do with whey once the curds are taken for cheese production etc. I feel that they are using our food as a "waste-whey" disposal system.

I would like to see Smarties, M 'n' M's and Skittles thrown into orbit. I wouldn't feed them to an animal - let alone an adult and never to a child.

My very quiet and normally extremely well behaved elder daughter (now aged 14) threw a brick at our French window aged 2 years having drunk a glass of lemonade. She had not previously had any foods/drinks containing additives/preservatives but was given the lemonade following a tummy bug when no other food/drinks could be tolerated. As a mother and a teacher I have great concerns about food additives in respect of behaviour and the general adverse effects on health. I buy organic whenever possible and avoid all processed foods. My children are allowed 1 can of coke/lemonade per week and other treats are restricted. Fortunately my children respect my concerns and are developing their own attitude especially when they see their peers with weight and dental problems.

My child got swollen eyes, lips and urticoria due to E110 in Calpol (The one with sugar/colour added). My second child has suffered from hyperactivity and couldn't get to sleep for 6 hours after eating Angel Delight. I try not to feed my children food with E110, Carmoisine or Tartrazine in. I would like to see the Food Commission address additives in children's medicine. I did contact Calpol and they contacted my GP and sent me a detailed questionnaire. But they did not explain why they add colour to medicines!

My child suffered adverse reactions from additives - poor behaviour, tantrums, sleeplessness, rashes. But I've had little co-operation from school and my previous GP. There's also the difficulty of disbelief from friends and relatives - little tolerance and understanding. The 'substitute' foods are expensive and less available.

Some additives caused an increase in physical behaviour, i.e. non-stop running and jumping. Also more aggressive and uncontrollable behaviour. I removed highly coloured sweets and it helped.

After drinking a store-bought coke there was a noticeable effect. It had a 'speed freak' effect - my child was running on empty, exhausted but refusing bedtime! Single-minded with activity, unable to switch attention to anything else. Luckily, it was a one-off. We're lucky to have a the vegan grocer that sells additive-free cake!

Any highly coloured foods seem to cause agitation in all three of my children. Eczema flares up too. Smarties, sweets, squash, etc made 'wild children' and bad eczema. After excluding these things it resulted in calmer children and the eczema almost disappears. Luckily, the offending foods are not staple diet so I've had no difficulty excluding them.

My usually calm 5 year old becoming quite 'hyper' and difficult to control after eating a bag of M & M's (multi-coloured bean sweets). M & M's are now banned in our house.

My child is very hyper after sugary drinks e.g., Ribena cartons or Sunny Delight, sweets and Fruit Winders. It's exceptional hyperactivity and kills hunger at meal times. I removed all manufactured foods and they were much calmer. In my case the research seems to be correct. The trouble is, other children have them and it's difficult to say to a 3 year old that all their friends' parents are wrong and Mummy is right!

I try to give my own child as many additive free foods as I can but as a teacher I constantly see children that cannot concentrate, are hyperactive and affected by the snacks they eat at breaktime/lunchtime. The fizzy drinks on sale at school are loaded with additives and I am sure they contribute to changes in behaviour towards the end of the school day. I am very concerned that my own child will be exposed to snacks/food that contain additives once she starts school and I am not there to constantly monitor what she eats. I will aim to make pack lunches as healthy and additive free as I can, but I would also like her to have hot lunches at school sometimes. We as parents are really concerned what affect the chemicals in these additives will have on her in the long term. Even at two years old I can see the differences in the behaviour of some of her friends that have a diet high in additives.

My first son's behaviour changed to extremely rude, aggressive, unkind behaviour after having a coloured Slush Puppy. With some sweets, my second son gets very high, bubbly but excessive. It's difficult at 10 years old - he can buy himself sweets. It's very difficult to exclude the foods - school club that runs during holidays sell rubbish highly coloured sweets at about 10:30am and again in the afternoon. The school has a good healthy eating programme, but the club chooses to do their own thing. After school care give him unhealthy snacks: biscuits, chocolate and squash. Why do manufacturers have to add these? Obviously for profit. Government should ban many unnecessary additives - perhaps bad behaviour and anti social behaviour in adults/children may improve.

Some additives make my son's behaviour completely unacceptable - he goes completely berserk and it changes his personality from a kind, caring, well behaved child to a monster, untrustworthy rude aggressive… Need I go on? They also make my daughter's skin itch. I exclude the problem foods and it helps a great deal for both children, especially my son. But one minor transgression leads to 'cravings' for more 'banned' food and ends in disaster. It is almost impossible to eat out or get a takeaway, every label has to be read. Suitable products are not always available. I have to shop in several different shops to get everything I want. Also it is usually much more expensive e.g., one yoghurt for him would cost 80p.

My daughter was given Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles in a party bag and for the first time I allowed her to eat some. She immediately became extremely angry - shouting at me and ran away to her room, crying - like a teenager, at age 4. Now, she doesn't eat sweets anyway, but I will ensure we will never have these again.

My son always becomes more agitated and aggressive after he has eaten obvious food additives in the form of colourings. They cause him to become agitated and aggressive, less able to concentrate or pay attention. We hardly ever give him food with colourings so it's easy to see the difference when he has eaten at a party or when going out to other people's houses.

All three have had some reaction to certain food additives mainly my 9 year old and 3 year old show certain signs. The effect has been on concentration, behaviour, sleep, tantrums, all aspects of behaviour. I found it hard to cope with my three year old son until I removed additives from his diet. Since October 2002, I have excluded additives. All my children now sleep better, for longer and more soundly. They showed a vast improvement in acceptable behaviour. They listen to what I say, they have better concentration levels. They are completely different children. Much better behaved and calmer. The children had been introduced to home cooking and I had only a slight difficulty in getting them to accept the new diet. On the whole there were no problems as I always gave them fresh fruit and a varied amount of fresh vegetables. They still miss some of the fast food, but are getting used to healthier alternatives.

We believe that additives caused hyperactivity - aggressiveness at school, disruptiveness at school and problems going to sleep. We tried removing foods from his diet and this helped. It's difficult finding other suitable foods and drinks without the inappropriate additives.

The only thing that I have seen consistently is a reaction to certain brightly coloured boiled sweets and boiled sweet type lollies on a stick. Also, coloured fizzy drinks - cola, cherryade, etc. They cause extreme and immediate change to hyper energetic behaviour - leaping about (literally), not listening, recklessness. It's impossible to remove sweets, although I try to regulate them. I removed fizzy drinks and their behaviour is now much more moderate. I try to control these at home and live with whatever happens outside of the home. I don't want to make a huge issue out of it. I think there are also many issues surrounding the quantity of added sugar in foods marketed for children, which may be affecting behaviour. I think some very young children have issues with their behaviour and diet is never looked into as a possible cause.

My daughter reacts to Calpol but not paracetamol. She became exceptionally hyperactive for 20 minutes and then fell asleep. Next time I gave ordinary paracetamol and she was fine.

My children are sometimes very hyper after children's parties from the fizzy drinks, cakes, chocolate. Removing these foods also caused tantrums!

My daughter's behaviour becomes 'hyper' after consuming sweets. This isn't generally a problem; our diet is mainly organic and free from additives. I still allow sweets occasionally.

My children get restless, and have failure to sleep when you know for a fact they are really tired after eating certain additives. I have stopped giving them certain foods, and this helps, but there's the age-old problem of getting other friends and parents to take an interest so my kids are not left out or appear totally different. The main concern is the battle for the palate - when kids grow used to eating mad colours, over-sweet and flavoured foods, processed to the point that they are similar to half-eaten food - how can you give them an apple or a carrot?

Once my toddler got hyperactive after drinking coloured kids' drinks and got a rash after eating pick n' mix sweets. They don't usually get stuff like that. It was a 'treat.' It's not a problem now they are older but pick n' mix is still a real turn-off to the boy. He won't eat it!

Because of my concerns, I have from the outset, bought organic food for my daughter. She has had limited access to additives therefore and as we don't have a TV she doesn't get bombarded by attempts to brainwash her into brand loyalty. It is the right of every child to have access to nutritious food uncontaminated by flavourings, colourings and other additives. The long-term side effects are unknown. We cannot risk our children's health.

There have been problems with colouring etc in some drinks and additives in sandwich spreads. I believe they caused my son to become hyperactive when taking the drinks which contain additives and a general feeling of being unwell with eating the spreads. These items were removed and that did help. I have cut down on providing the drinks with additives. This was done because there weren't many drinks which he likes. I have great concerns as one of my children has an educational disability. I often wonder if additive, etc may have an influence on him. I also have IBS and I believe additives, etc may be some of the cause.

My child suffered from wheeziness after eating certain additives. We've had no problem excluding it, and this has helped.

Our three-year-old son became 'manic' and naughty behaviour increased after eating Smarties. He is not allowed Smarties now. He seems to have some problems with other foods - sweets and biscuits especially. In my house there is no problem - I don't buy them. When shopping, I offer him an alternative. It's harder when children around him (e.g. at parties) are eating the food.

I think additives cause my child to have more tantrums. We are trying to exclude certain foods - I think it is helping - might be too soon to tell though. It is very tricky, as it was his favourites - Smarties, dolly mixtures and high juice squash - that contained the culprit additives.

Smarties - made my son mildly hyperactive and bad tempered on several occasions. We bought a Smarties substitute from the health food shop with natural colourings.

My son reacted to benzoic acid E210 - E219. He is also allergic to citrus fruits, strawberry and pineapple and reacts to E330 - E333 and E440 a&b when made from these fruits (citric acid and pectin). He gets nettle rash (urticoria), eczema, stomach cramps and is unable to digest the foods. Food labels are hard to understand, and I often ended up telephoning the company. Also, it's hard trying to find products like the ones his friends have without the additives. There's a lack of choice in supermarkets.

Colourings made her hyperactive. I tried removing them and this helped, but it is very difficult to avoid colourings. She is now at the stage where she goes to parties and orange squash is always the drink offered. She does not have it at home, and doesn't like it now - because she is not used to it. But, she loves Smarties, which we have to limit because of their effect.

High colouring like in jelly crystals, squash and sweets has an effect, I think. Going into "overdrive", over-excited, rushing around a lot and not stopping. Now I only buy from health foods shops. Also only fruit juice in drinks mostly water now. I look at the packets. Finding out what was in what took a lot of time in the supermarket. There's a lack of choice.

After reading many articles about the over use of additives, I decided to find out more and read a couple of books. Then I removed all additives from our diet. I began sleeping better and my children, aged 2 and 4 seemed calmer, fought less and argued with me less. It was very difficult to start with, as there are so many and written as different forms; number and different names, which shouldn't be allowed.

Our 18 month old ate some orange jelly last week at tea time and went to bed as usual and she would not settle. She was running around the house, opening cupboards, unable to sit still and the only way to stop her was to take her into our bed and hold onto her until she eventually fell asleep (screaming!) I shall not be giving her orange jelly again for sometime, if ever.

Our son reacted to various orange juice drinks and coke by going hyperactive. When we stopped giving him these drinks the hyperactivity stopped. The only difficulties avoiding these things is when out or at parties.

My child gets eczema from foods with 'red' colourings, and hyperactivity associated with food colouring, eg, Smarties, icing on cakes, drinks. This improved when we stopped giving the foods. However, it becomes more difficult to restrict as children reach school age, due to peer pressure/general awareness of children's foods/drinks and consequent 'pester power'.

Prolonged and frequent tantrums and unreasonableness was caused by certain foods. After removing them from his diet the change in a matter of days was incredible. He was far more approachable and the tantrums became infrequent. I haven't had difficulty doing this in his main diet, it was just when I wanted to reward him with a small pot of sweets. I hadn't realized that so many of them contained colours and additives.

I notice my youngest child becomes almost 'hyperactive' after pick & mix sweets and coca-cola. I'm not sure if this is the level of sugar or the additives but I'm sure all the additives in children's food are simply not necessary. The less processed the better.

Useful resources

The Hyperactive Children's Support Group has for many years considered that colours and preservatives can lead to behavioural changes in children. For further information, send a stamped addressed envelope to: The Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HACSG), 71 Whyke Lane, Chichester, West Sussex P019 7PD. The HACSG runs workshops at its London centre for professionals dealing with children suffering from hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder. Tel. 020 8946 4444. Web:

Do food additives cause hyperactivity and behaviour problems in a geographically defined population of 3-year-olds? (Project: T07004) £15 from The Food Standards Agency Library. Tel: 020 7276 8060.