Since Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a pediatric allergist from California, had success in the 1970s treating the symptoms of hyperactivity in some children by prescribing a diet that, among other things, eliminated artificial colorings, plenty of conclusive research has been published on the topic. Although behavioral pediatrician, author and talking head Lawrence Diller claims that evidence linking diet to childhood behavioral disorders belongs to “those urban legends that won’t die,” many experiments and studies attest to the contrary, including this one published in the medical journal The Lancet in 2007 as well as the famous Appleton Central High School case study.
The food industry uses synthetic dyes to hide the absence of real food in a product, to make children’s food products of low nutritional value more appealing, or to achieve a combination of the two, according to Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI. FDA data shows that the daily amount of food dyes allowed for consumption per day per capita in the U.S. has increased five-fold between 1955 and 2007, up to 59 milligrams per day per capita.
In this context, it is worth noting that American children are more exposed to synthetic dyes than in any other country. According to the CSPI, many processed food products marketed to children in the U.S. contain artificial colorings while the same products sold on the British market, for instance, do not contain the artificial ingredients.