25 October 2016
Parents need to watch out for six food color additives while choosing snacks for their children. Photo: Reuters
Parents need to watch out for six food color additives while choosing snacks for their children. Photo: Reuters

Food additives and their suspected link to attention deficiency

According to her mother, Liza has been absent-minded since she was a child. Whenever she goes out, she would either forget to pick up her purse or keys.

Liza is quite clever but she never performed well at school as she didn’t pay much attention to what teachers said in class.

Soon after finishing secondary school, she decided to go to work. But she couldn’t handle any repetitive office jobs or tasks that involve sitting at one place for a long time.

Liza is now a full-time housewife after becoming a mother of two boys.

Recently, when she took her elder child to a doctor for consultation on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), that doctor told Liza that she too might be suffering from the same problem.

Finally Liza got some insights into many of her behavioral problems.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but research studies have produced strong evidence that genes play a role in susceptibility to ADHD, accounting for around 70 percent of the risk.

Other factors that may also contribute to the ADHD risk include children being born prematurely or suffering from brain hypoxia.

A study conducted by the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom has suggested that food additives could have a link to hyperactivity.

During a course of six weeks, 153 three-year-old and 144 eight-year-old children participated in the research. Children who took in drinks mixed with color additives showed increased hyperactive behavior.

Since July 2010, the European Food Safety Authority has been advising children not to consume items with the following six food colors: Tartrazine (E102), Quinoline yellow (E104), Sunset yellow (E110), Allura Red (E129), Carmoisine (E122) and Ponceau 4R (E124).

According to an article published by Hong Kong’s Consumer Council in November 2010, nearly half of the snacks available in Hong Kong contain one of the any above six colors.

The long-term intake of harmful food additives is widely regarded as the main cause of contributing to the increasing number of patients diagnosed with ADHD.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 3.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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