Color of Controversy


Symptoms of Food-Dye-Related Behavioral Problems

The type of behavioral problems caused by food dye will depend on the child. Common symptoms of food-dye-related behavioral problems are:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Insomnia (Which Contributes to Poor Behavior)
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Irritability
  • Tantrums/Meltdowns
  • Frequent Crying Spells

Food Dyes that Cause Child Behavioral Problems

So which food dyes should you be watching out for? While no petroleum-based food dye could possibly be considered healthy, these two food dyes have been particularly associated with child behavioral problems:

Red #40

Red dye #40 has been most commonly associated with aggressive and impulsive behavior in children. Tantrums, hitting, kicking and swearing are common reactions in children sensitive to this dye. According to research, parents whose children consumed any food with this dye experienced a sudden and violent change in personality. When the dye was removed, the behavioral problems disappeared.

Yellow #5

Yellow #5 is most commonly associated with insomnia, which can lead to behavioral problems. Hyperactivity and learning disabilities have also been associated with this food dye.  Aside from Red #40 and Yellow #5, there are dozens more food dyes that can contribute to child behavioral problems.

A great resource: Food Dyes, A Rainbow of Risks

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