Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior? You’ve Got to Read This.

Think what you eat doesn't affect how you feel and act? You need to read and watch this. The information and videos in this post are fascinating as researchers split kids into 2 groups and feed them different types of food. One group got typical party food while the other got more wholesome choices. The results are amazing.

{Food and behavior is a big topic these days.  Folks are talking about gluten-free diets, paleo diets, candida diets, and more.  Does it all matter?  Does food affect things like autism, ADD, ADHD and just plain old defiance? Ruth Almon, of Paleo Diet Basics is sharing with us some fascinating information about how food affects behavior.  I was amazed when I read this–check it out and make sure to share it to get the word out.  So many behavioral issues can be traced to the gut. We need to all inform and empower parents to make a difference in their children’s (and their own) lives.}

It’s common to joke about kids being on a sugar high after a party, so all of us know –on some level–that food influences how kids behave.

But how many of us realize the extent to which our children’s day-to-day actions are shaped and molded by the foods we feed them?

An experiment on the effects of food on behavior done by the British TV series, The Food Hospital, produced shocking results. Party food loaded with sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives has the power to turn your lovely, cooperative child into a badly behaved, physically aggressive youngster.

The Food and Behavior Experiment

Children in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party. They were split into two groups:

Group One: was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, sandwiches, hummus, etc. and was given water to drink.

Group Two: received the usual party fair: candy, potato chips, and soda (or as they say in the UK, sweets, crisps, and fizzy pop), all containing loads of sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives.

The children’s ability to follow instruction, concentrate, and remember information was then measured as they played party games, and their actions were carefully recorded. You may be surprised by what they found.

Food Behavior Table


It wasn’t only how they behaved that was remarkably different.

The healthy food group did “48% better in the games overall” – that’s a huge improvement in performance.

Check out these videos to see what happened.


The Experiment. On Video.

Part One – The Test. 

UPDATE: For some reason the videos aren’t online right now, but you can watch this YouTube video to see portions of Part Two. We’re working to see what can be done about it.

For now, you can watch part of it here:

See how the coordinators divided up the groups, what they ate, and how things started to play out. This is very interesting!

Click on the below photos to see the compelling videos.

**UPDATE–It appears that occasionally the videos don’t work.  If that happens to you, try reloading several times, or paste the following url into your browser:

*** Don’t Watch the Spoiler Though!!!  When you click, you will have access to both videos, so make sure to watch Part 1 first and then Part 2.

Screen shot 2013-11-09 at 12.21.31 PM

Part Two

See the results of the experiment–how the kids behave and learn after eating their meals. Watch as parents and a psychologist evaluate behavior during play and learning tasks. A Must. See.

Again, click on the photo to see the video.

If Part 1 is showing, click on Part 2 below the video to see the results of this telling experiment.

Think Food Doesn't Affect Behavior? You have to read and watch this!
**Note:  The woman, when stating that they “don’t know” what made the difference, mentions “E numbers.” From Wikipedia, this is what she is referring to: “E numbers are codes for chemicals which can be used as food additives for use within the European Union and Switzerland (the “E” stands for “Europe”).They are commonly found on food labels throughout the European Union. Safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority”


Those who ran the study say that they don’t know what it is in the party food that affects the children. Is it the sugar? The artificial coloring? Maybe the lack of essential nutrients? It’s not clear.

I suspect it’s a combination, with individual children being more affected by different things.

What is clear is that children not only behave better but concentrate better, follow instructions better, and remember more when they eat healthier food. Let’s not forget that concentration, following instructions, and memory are fundamental building blocks of the learning process and vital for success at school.

Are We Setting Our Kids (and Ourselves) Up for Failure?

So having watched this segment, I couldn’t help think that many kids are inadvertently being set up for failure by their own parents. Moms and Dads certainly intend to do the best for their children, and part of this can mean feeding them “regular food” that won’t set their children apart from their friends. But in doing so, our children are being sabotaged in ways that make it difficult for them to perform school tasks successfully.

They’re fed processed foods that can make them aggressive and difficult to control. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, they’re penalized for their inability to learn and their out-of-control behavior.

We all know that a child who is constantly hitting other children, having tantrums, and running around wildly is a child who is continually reprimanded. We also all know a child who doesn’t follow teachers’ instructions, can’t remember what he or she was taught yesterday, or can’t concentrate long enough to finish a task receives poor grades and negative feedback.

No parent wants this for his or her child.

Tragically, in the worst cases, kids who are simply reacting to what they are being fed end up taking unnecessary prescription drugs or are sent to special schools.

Setting Children up for Success

How do we feed children to prepare them succeed in school and get along in society? Generally speaking, the more natural a food is, the less likely it is to cause a severe behavioral reaction. Keep in mind that there are plenty of individual differences in how children react to specific foods and additives.

One family might discover that avoiding a certain additive transforms their child into a little angel, while in another family cutting out wheat may do wonders.

That said, watch out in particular for these three substances, which are often linked with behavioral problems.

Three of the Most Troubling Things to Eat

1. Artificial Coloring

More and more evidence is pointing to artificial food dyes as a major cause of ADHD in children. While this hasn’t been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the facts are strong enough to convince many European countries to ban blue 1 (brilliant blue), blue 2 (indigo carmine), yellow 5 (tartrazine), and yellow 6 (sunset yellow) among others. These food colors have FDA approval and are found in cereal, candy, and a variety of colorful foods popular with children.

2. Sugar

There is a shocking amount of sugar in processed foods – and some of it is lurking in places you wouldn’t suspect. One 12 oz. can of coke has 9 ½ teaspoons of sugar. The same amount of Tropicana Farmstand Juice has 9 teaspoons. There’s also lots of sugar in flavored yogurts and chocolate milk – not so surprising. But did you know that there is often sugar in savory foods, such as ketchup, bread, sausages, and barbeque sauce? Your child can consume a considerable amount of sugar even before you let him or her eat candy, and high sugar levels contribute to hyperactivity.

3. Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in carbonated beverages and fruit juices, condiments, candies and many other products. It has been implicated either separately or together with artificial colorings for causing or aggravating ADHD symptoms, and is best avoided. Read labels.

A real-food, nutrient-dense paleo diet – which excludes these three substance as well as anything likely to affect behavior – seems to me the best way to ensure your kids get the right nutrition. Click to learn what the paleo diet is.

How Does This Affect Your Family

You may think that these problems don’t affect you since your child doesn’t suffer from serious behavioral problems or learning disabilities. Remember, the children in the video were just a regular group of school kids–not children selected because they didn’t behave well. The impact on them was profound, so clearly, this is a concern for every parent.

Let’s do all we can to set our kids up for success.

(UPDATE:  Think the evidence isn’t compelling enough?

Check out Response to Doubters–STILL Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior?  Read This.)

{From Adrienne.  I have REALLY noticed the relationship between food and behavior in our home. We’ve removed colors, preservatives, and then gluten, and sugar and have seen a lot of things improve as a result.  Let’s for sure do what we can to get the word out about this.  So many meds and doctors visits and frustrating scenarios could be avoided if we try to feed our kids (and ourselves) well.}

Ruth is one smart cookie. And she’s written a GREAT new book called Step By Step Paleo.  It’s a Guidebook for helping your transition to the paleo diet, which is a whole foods, grain free eating plan.  Many, many folks have seen positive changes to their health after making the changes the Ruth outlines in this book.  And it’s no wimpy tome either. It’s a load of info!

Paleo Cookbook

Have you noticed (or do you suspect) foods affect behavior in your house?  

What has YOUR experience been?

Ruth Almon of Paleo Diet BasicsRuth is a big fan of the paleo diet, having regained her health after decades of living with chronic fatigue syndrome. She’s the author of Step By Step Paleo, a guidebook that takes the guesswork out of transitioning to paleo. Ruth blogs at Paleo Diet Basics.

Photo Credits: The Food Hospital


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Great article. I am not surprised by this but somehow it has more punch b/c of the study involved. Would love if you shared this tomorrow at our next Healing With Food blog hop at Purposeful Nutrition.

  2. Sure, Jennifer. :)

  3. I can clearly attest to the issues caused by artificial coloring. That stuff is scary. And with my youngest child who has multiple food allergies, the first sign that he’s ingested one of his allergens is that he starts bouncing off the walls. He literally starts running in circles. The itching and rash come later, but the hyperactivity is a sure sign for him. It’s sad that it’s legal to put these substances into our food. I know so many people don’t take this issue seriously and I am sure they and their kids are suffering because of it.

  4. Chantal R says:

    Great article and I completely agree about healthy food but it would have been better if they were more specific explaining what mean behavior is and if there are incidents of aggression and outbursts there had to be mean behavior. And documenting specifically like hits, kicks, negative comments and more.

    • Personally for me, I KNOW what bad behavior is–ANY aggression, temper outburst, kicking, hitting, biting, fighting, etc. I felt no need to hear specifics. It boils down to feed your kids crap, you get crap behavior. Period. So don’t do it!

      • You’re sooo right. Garbage in–garbage out!

      • mandypandycandy says:

        You are completely disregarding the fact that a child is still a child REGARDLESS of what is ingested. Behavior learning is a part of childhood. Just because a child has a tantrum or aggression doesn’t mean that they are allergic to food coloring or any other chemical. It may just mean that they are testing and learning their boundaries. Personalities differ.
        It is smart to feed kids they best that is available to them. Period.
        If food dyes, sugar and other chemicals were the root cause of bad behavior, vegetarians and/or vegans would rule the world. Thank goodness that isn’t the case.

        • I’m confused about why you think vegans would rule the world? You are right about feeding kids (and adults) the best food. Thanks!

        • ? That doesn’t make any sense. My kids are vegetarians and don’t eat dyes and nasty chemicals. They do occasionally have sugar like maple syrup, honey. and sucanat or coconut sugar.

        • You obviously have no clue about kids that are sensitive to this, Michelle. I can agree with you that good/bad behaviour is taught BUT what do you say to the sweetest 7 year old, that has the best manners in the world, that as soon as he gets in contact with pesticides/additives/preservatives/sugar/chemicals/GMO/gluten or whatever, changes into a hyperactive & impulsive brat???? MY child is very sensitive to this and we try everything to keep it away from him but with GMO and modern diet, it is a daily struggle. Especially with no laws wrt labelling. I cook EVERYTHING from scratch, organic as far as possible. Nothing packaged, no sweets etc. get close to him – even when friends around him eat sweets he will say that he can’t have it because it is bad for him. AGAIN: What do you say to this sweet boy if he ate something wrong and he lashes out and then come say “I’m so sorry, I didn’t want to do that! Mommy why am I bad? I try so hard but sometimes my brain is dumb and I can’t think?” Again, you obviously have no clue so please go on your knees and thank God for ‘normal’ children but please don’t speak out against stuff you don’t understand because of your obviously blessed children. With love xx

        • Sheril C says:

          Mandypandy appears to completely disregard the entire point of the experiment being done with “regular” kids and the differences in the two groups. The fact that children must learn and mature or that you can’t feed your child in a way that will cause them to be perfect and skip over the learning and teaching parts of childhood has no bearing on this entire conversation. The post does not claim anything outside of those realities.

          The difference found is actually extremely important as people repeat this experience and see the same results… that any good parent who is teaching their child and allowing their child to learn knows that setting your child up for success is a good idea and that setting them up for failure is downright unacceptable by any measure. So if you want your child to learn the lessons of how to behave and how to have self-discipline then why would you feed them substances that are unnecessary for nutrition, growth or even fun on special occasions but that do cause them to have less success at controlling themselves, being positive in their outlook or thinking through what is the best way to handle any given situation?!

    • I completely agree. The outcomes assessed in this article are quite subjective. Their target audience likely doesn’t care about the details of controlling for confounding variables, but the results should be interpreted cautiously as anecdotal evidence at best. For the record, I do believe food affects behavior. I just think it’s a good idea to think critically about things we read and ask the questions Chantal R is asking. We can’t assume that our definition of “bad behavior” is the same as that used in the study.

      • They are anecdotal, but more than just one story. There are some controls but they weren’t perfect. Still, I think it’s super valuable and from the attention this post is getting, I think many think it is so. That being said, just b/c something gets attention, doesn’t mean it is valuable, but you get my point.

        I would love to hear what they thought was bad behavior. But looking at the videos you can see some of it and there was some description of it as well.

        • Holly - Simply Organized says:

          Agreed. A good scientific investigation operationally defines descriptive words like mean. That way the definition is not subject to opinion. Teaching kids boundaries and not letting them be the boss has the same effect and I have seen people go straight for the food solution only to be disappointed that nothing really got better.

          • Sheril C says:

            While discipline is necessary in raising a child it does not always have the same effect. My own parents have acknowledged how very lucky they were that my brother and I were not only neurotypical but also fairly easy going, laid back and easy to train just by our nature. Once you have a child or grandchild with extreme health conditions or a developmental or neurological influence that changes all those factors you become much more aware of how important this type of thing can be.

            And outside of that… even with my own parents and their thinking and their success…what type of parent, after watching the further and further downhill slide of food in our culture and the mounting evidence of problems resulting, wants to make discipline and learning and maturing harder on their kids and on themselves?! The idea that you have it easier than others in your parenting does not excuse you if you choose to ignore what is happening in the food supply. Your own children may have much worse problems when they become parents because of the effect of epigenetics! I beg of you to consider carefully and prayerfully!

  5. YES!!!! Food dye made/makes my boys HYPER! It’s not worth it whatsoever to let them partake of anything with it. We as a whole avoid it as a family. Dye cannot be healthy for you. It’s disturbing how many foods contain dye: marshmallows, pickles/relish/, some freeze dried fruits, cereal, and on and on. We tend to avoid eating at most Asian restaurants because a lot of the sauces have good dye in them. So I’ve learned to make Asian cuisine (it’s not authentic) at home.

  6. I shared this on FB with 100 days of real food. That blog reaches a ton of people and is a great stepping stone for those new to the real, whole food way of life. I hope you don’t mind! :)

    • I am sooo thankful! I am almost in tears now. This needs to get out. I have been trying and trying to tell folks how important this is!

      • Thank You! For all you do and being a wealth of information! I have always been a bit of a non-mainstream person, and I’m constantly learning, so it shocks me when people have no idea what I’m talking about. But they don’t. Searching for truth in a web of lifelong lies is an arduous task and frankly, is exhausting. Let’s not grow weary in doing good! Hope you have a marvelous day!

  7. Michelle M says:

    Great article! We have cut out dyes, artificial flavors and preservatives because my boy did become aggressive and out of control! Have you heard of the Feingold Diet? You don’t have to go Paleo to cut out foods. The Feingold organization researches foods and talks directly with companies to find out what is in their products. Check it out
    Thanks for spreading the word! Hoping more people catch on and stop being ignorant. A lot of people look at me like I am crazy. :-)

    • Ruth Amon says:

      Wow, I do know about the Feingold diet. I saw I British documentary about it many years ago and it blew me away. They took young teens who were seriously out of control. Some of these kids, just 14 or 15 years old, were already known to the police.

      In the documentary, they not only instructed the parents how to alter the diet, they brought them a box of groceries weekly.

      At the end, all the kids convened somewhere to talk about the program. You could see a huge change! They were all sitting like normal kids. No one was shouting. No one fidgeting. No one pushing or shoving. You didn’t need a degree in psychology to see that there was a huge transformation.

  8. This is amazing. However, as someone in the UK, E numbers are not just artificial colours. Wikipedia says “E numbers are codes for chemicals which can be used as food additives for use within the European Union and Switzerland (the “E” stands for “Europe”).They are commonly found on food labels throughout the European Union. Safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority.

    Having a single unified list for food additives was first agreed upon in 1962 with colours. In 1964, the directives for preservatives were added, 1970 for antioxidants and 1974 for the emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents.”

    The UK Food Standards Agency says: ”

    Food additives are grouped by what they do. The additives that you are most likely to come across on food labels are:

    antioxidants (stop food becoming rancid or changing colour by reducing the chance of fats combining with oxygen)
    emulsifiers, stabilisers, gelling agents and thickeners (help to mix or thicken ingredients)
    flavour enhancers (used to bring out the flavour of foods)
    preservatives (used to keep food safer for longer)
    sweeteners (intense sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar whereas bulk sweeteners have a similar sweetness to sugar)”

  9. Mary-Ann Van Den Assem says:

    Do I think there is a food/behaviour connection? MAJORLY!!!! We have a son who is soo sensitive to anything chemical or artificial. We have used a naturopath for years. We took almost all food out of his diet that he could not tolerate. We have worked on his gut, we have done allergy reversals, and have seen major improvements in his behaviour. Still today when he has something he can’t tolerate his behaviour changes in a few hours. Aggressive, angry, disobedient, yelling, can’t focus, you get the drift. Many people think we are weird but unless you have a kid like this you just don’t understand. It has been a long hard road, but worth it now, we all eat better because of him.
    We also started with the Feingold diet and have tried many methods of alternative care. The allergy reversals have worked the most so far.
    However, we have another child who has sensitvities to wheat and colour and he also can’t focus and gets very weepy when he consumes them. So it is not always the bad stuff that causes these reactions. I get sad when the healthy foods cause reactions as well, because God made us the good food to eat!

    • Hi there. I am working on something having to do w/ food allergies…so stay tuned. Make sure you subscribe to my blog. If this works you will want to know :). Hang in there.

    • You seem to mention wheat as a “healthy food” that “God made”. I get your point…BUT wheat today is soooo different than how it used to be. I’ve read that it contains a much higher gluten content than it used to as well! I’d be very interested to know if your son might tolerate an heirloom wheat product instead of something refined or touted as “whole wheat”. You can find them online. Might be worth a shot. That type has never been altered or “messed with” and is the closest to the real deal that there is.

  10. Two weeks ago I watched my Mom, who is 85 with Alzheimers, present the ALZ behavior issues 30 mins after eating half a blueberry muffin from the bakery. We are moving towards a non-processed foods and healthy way of living. It has been a bit difficult at first, the bad stuff is everywhere and hidden, but I’m getting a handle on it… This website is a blessing – Thank you!

  11. Alecia Ludwick-Jones says:

    I don’t disagree with anything, more curious about the psychology. Did the yellow group normally eat these types of foods or is this a special treat? I know kids get wacky when there is something special happening-treats, activities, etc. So if the options for blue are standard food and nothing special there would be less reason to get wacky.
    I’m glad she did point out that it’s probably affected a little by one kid starting and the others following along with a behavior so I suppose this question follows the same line of thinking. Is there more of this response from kids if they DON’T eat this type of food frequently or does it just amp up the kids who do so they seem to have more behavior issues all around.

    • I don’t believe they did anything but split the kids up randomly.

      Weren’t the kids all in the same room though? I thought so. That would kind of negate the “following the crowd” theory. Ruth will hopefully chime in tomorrow.

    • Hi Alecia,
      There was no difference in how kids in either group normally ate. They randomly divided the children into 2 groups for the experiment. The yellow team got food that would normally be served at a party while the blue got “healthy” food (even the healthy food could be approved upon though).

      This mimics what happens with kids in real life. Once in a while they are invited to a party (or Halloween rolls around) and they get a much larger dose of junk food than they do day to day.

  12. I had all but given up on going away as a family for weekends because my 3 year old son’s extremely difficult behaviour and sleep disturbances were causing major problems. I started doing some research which led initially to cutting bread preservative (282) from his diet and then progressively more and more additives and artificial colours and flavours. We recently went away for a weekend and were very careful to only provide good foods with no nasties added in. His behaviour was good, there were no episodes of night terrors and he went to bed without argument when asked, even though there was a whole houseful of noisy adults having a barbeque. Unquestionably food affects behaviour in our case and I am so glad to have found the information we needed to take control. All our lives are so much better for it!

    • So good to hear!!!!

      • Have you heard of the Block Center? She is a local Dr here in DFW that went to school to become a doc to help her daughter with ADHD because she did NOT want her on drugs. She does really great work! Click around on her website, she has a video about food and what it does. There is a little boy sitting at a table, he’s writing- calm and doing fine. They give him a little piece of chocolate and in 5 minutes he is yelling at his mom and throwing stuff, out of control. Then they give him something to counter the chocolate nad he is calm and fine again, smiling and being who he really is. Parents have no clue how important is in a lot of aspects in their kids lives.

        • that last sentence should have said: Parents have no clue how important FOOD is in a lot of aspects in their kids lives.

          • Hi Adrienne,
            Thank you for writing this article, it is so strue!
            I am a mother of 2 boys, I live in Hungary. I believe in healthy food and living as well. I have a website which sells natural products like homemade natural soaps, aromatherapy products, products for natural housekeeping etc.(
            I write a blog about what i am interested in ( .
            Would you mind if I translate your post in my blog, of course I will indicate the original source?
            If you give me your permission please send me an email.

            Thnank you very much in advance,

            • Hi there. Please send me an email. It’s not a good idea to translate word for word. I am not sure how Google would interpret that but likely they would penalize you, but we can talk. wholenewmom at gmail dot com – thanks and welcome!!

        • I am so sorry for not responding sooner – I am finally going back thru old comments.

          I hadn’t heard of that place. Looks very interesting -thanks!!!

  13. Hi Adrienne-

    Long time, no talk!

    I will share this across all my social media…love this study. We’ve been eating clean for years given autism and sensory issues for my boys, and it’s made a huge difference.

    My best,

  14. So interesting! I’ve heard of these things being limited on the diets of kiddos with autism (dyes, etc) but figured it was an attempt to do anything possible from desperate parents. It will be interesting to see. More studies come out in this area with typically-developing children and maybe we should all look closely at the processed “foods” we’re consuming!

    • It’s not just an attempt to do anything. I have seen different responses from my kids (and in my own life) from taking different foods (and non-foods) out of our diets. This is real. If the gut is where so many things originate for our health, it only makes sense.

  15. This was such an interesting study. I would have loved to see them take it one step further and do the same thing again another day with the same children but switch the food given to each group. I’m guessing that the results would have been very similar but it would have taken the question of how the children were split up out of the equation showing it was the food that affected the behavior and not “the luck of the draw.”

    • Good idea. I do think, however, that you could ask that of any study. Sure, this wasn’t a perfect double blind test, but I think any of us w/ kiddos know this is so true.

  16. I would add artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, BHT, BHA, and TBHQ to that list of the worst no-no’s as ones to absolutely avoid! Of course, most children’s breakfast cereals have BHT added to them, or to the packaging (which then poisons the food!). Our family has happily been following the Feingold diet for 11 years now, and it changed our lives! We now go even farther for specific reasons (gluten free, dairy free, etc.). Each step we take has seen HUGE improvements in our family’s well being. Iwish every parent knew what we did.

    • Agree with Marilyn 100% about avoiding preservatives, flavorings, and sweeteners for kids. Both my child and I are affected by these.

  17. This is fascinating! I’m not sure it told me anything I didn’t already know… or at least suspect… but it was wonderful to see it all neatly written down!

    We are a pretty whole-foods, real-food, nutrient- dense sort of family… and if my daughter winds up with something processed, not much happens. My son on the other hand!!! I’m not exactly sure *what* sets him off… food dye, for sure. And if someone lets him eat Doritos, he will be a nightmare for days! Luckily he’s old enough to understand that what he eats affects his behavior, and he generally steers clear of the junk. :)

  18. It makes me sad for all the little pups who get sent out the door to school with a pop tart in their hand. Or, according to the commercial, whole wheat toast with Nutella makes a wholesome breakfast! Sigh. Media sadly does affect our choices, and many parents don’t know the truth. I wonder why there aren’t news stories on these kinds of studies? We follow the SCD diet because two of my kids have Celiac and Autism. In a way, we praise God for the diagnosis. Changes that we were “forced” to make for them have been good for the whole family! Thanks for the time and effort you put into this post!

    • I used to be one of those pups. Well, typically it was a Thomas’ English Muffin or Corn Toast R Cake….or cinnamon toast on white bread. Sigh. Now I am paying for it. Thanks!

    • There is a big reason why you don’t see more news stories or government support about the dangers of certain foods. It is because the food industry holds huge power and has big bucks behind them. They fund governments (it doesn’t matter which party or who is in power), and the government can’t afford to cross them. Newspapers are the same. There are many many examples in the US and the UK of studies and evidence being brushed under the carpet because no one can afford to take on the food industry. If you search on You Tube for a documentary called ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat’ it is well worth watching. It is a British documentary but looks a lot at the US food industry too. Fascinating and scary how food and politics have been so tied up together for probably longer than you would think.

  19. i hope both groups of kids were fed two meals…if one group of kids was saddled with a disruptive child and then fed junk food and played group games this could effect result drastically i would say you would have to test the well behaved group with junk food also to see if their attitudes changed …

  20. I wish that you had a citation for your sources. Where is this study published, and who performed this experiment? Thank You.

  21. Dwight Morgan says:

    After watching this, get a copy of “Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills,” by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D. and read it. On pages 37-38: “…the child’s brain is four times more sensitive than is the adult brain to these toxins.” (referring excitotoxins like MSG [It’s not just in Chinese food!!] and aspartame [Nutrasweet]. If you didn’t already know it the food producers try to hide the MSG they put in your food by calling it other names. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is an especially common additive that is far worse than MSG alone. By sneaking “flavor enhancers” into your foods they can get away with using lower grade foods in their products.
    Also worth a look is Pediatrician Robert Lustig’s YouTube clip, “Sugar, The Bitter Truth” or his book, “Fat Chance”. Both outline his experience and conclusions about sugar and fructose in particular in their effects on children’s physiology.
    As a retired high school teacher and elementary school counselor, I can tell you that whole foods build whole kids, junk foods create junkenstein monsters…

  22. Thanks for the article. After my children were diagnosed with ADD I became unsettled and felt hopeless. I followed the advice of doctors and I didn’t understand why they were just ok with passing out a prescription to “fix” the problem. I wanted to know WHAT and WHY this was happening. I decide against the dangerous pills and researched the alternative approach with whole foods. Our family is not 100% perfect when it comes to eating, but I do incorporate as much whole food as possible. I think as parents it’s our responsibility to provide the most nutritious foods as possible. As parents, we don’t knowingly want to hurt our children. It’s time to educate. It’s ok to say no to McDonalds, It’s ok to say no to sugary sodas. It starts in the home and parents need to set the example.

  23. I can totally attest to this! I quit buying all the Little Debbie snack “crap”, cereal, white sugar, white flour, shortening, etc. Now I use sucanat, whole wheat flour, and coconut oil. I make all my own snacks for my kids. I have also put them on extra vitamin D. Not only have their attitudes and moods improved, but their eczema has improved as well. My kids, and I have 6 of them, all opt for healthy food now, because they know how the sugary and boxed “junk” makes them feel, and they don’t like it. I’m one proud mama :)

  24. I can def say that my real food child never had meltdowns, i never knew what the terrible 2os are all about and generally very easy handled and no mood swings

  25. From my own personal experience with my kids, I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Removing artificial dyes and preservatives from my kids’ diets when they were younger was the most effective (and I mean *Drastically* effective) way of seeing better behavior in them. Even my husband, who was skeptical, became a believer and supportive of feeding them good foods without the dyes and preservatives.

    When our older son would eat junk while out at a friends home or elsewhere, we would know it quickly, and he would “fess up.

    It is not an easy path to take, and sadly, we had friends & relatives who thought that we would never know that they fed these foods to him. Trust me, we knew.

  26. I can agree with this, but a better test would be to do the same testing but swap out the groups. So the group that had a healthy diet the first time, would have the party diet the next go around. And vice versa for the other group. Then compare. That way you remove the variables of actual internal behavior of the kids that is not effected by food.

  27. melody masi says:

    Love the idea here, but could hear no sound but overpowering music. Neither adults nor kids talking was discernible. I’d like to know what they were saying.

  28. I believe in eating healthy food. However, the results of this study are worthless because it was NOT double-blind. The kids were color-coded, for goodness sakes! Other studies that WERE double-blind found that sugar did NOT make kids hyper (kids were fed placebos or sugar, neither the researchers nor the parents nor the kids knew which they got each time).

    Results: sugar did NOT cause hyper behavior in kids. Artificial sweeteners did NOT cause hyper behavior in kids. However, if the parents BELIEVED the kids had gotten sugar, the kids showed hyper behavior. It was thee beliefs and expectations of the parents that led to the hyper behavior, not what the kids consumed, according to the double-blind study!

    If THIS study was done double-blind and got these results, I would believe them and find them very important, but not only were the researchers aware of which kids ate the junk, the kids were dressed in different colors based on what they ate–the study’s results might just as well show that kids dressed in blue behave more calmly and think more clearly or that the expectations of adults based on what kids eat impact their behavior. So aggravating! Why didn’t they do a valid study???

  29. I have also seen a similar experiment where 1 group of kids were given healthy food but high stimulating games. The other group were given ‘junk’ but calming games. At the end of the experiment most parents from the healthy snack group thought there kids had been eating the junk because of their hyperactivity. And the junk food group left calm and pleasant. The brain has a max threshold for sugar once it reaches that threshold more sugar has no more affect. I think like most things behaviour is affected by more than just food, (food def plays an important role I am not denying that, my little one is a terrible hunger monster at times) but sleep and home securities and social interactions all influence behaviour, changing diet may not be the solution for all cases especially if the child is not getting the sleep that is required too for example. I avoid as much junk as possible for my child, as a kid I reacted so badly to tartrazine, and I want to teach her to make the right choices. But I don’t think the story stops at diet.

    • This is an interesting comment, because many of my foriegn (German, Spanish, Argentine) friends say that there is not idea in their country that sugar makes kids crazy, and that their kids are not affected by sugar before bedtime. I think it is because when they eat candy, it is not in a stimulating environment and their parents are very mellow in general.

      As much as I eat local and natural, I don’t think that studies like these, done by a TV show, are very reliable.

  30. This is great, do you have a link to or citation for the original article? I would really like to read it. I got to this post through FB, so I am not sure what you have already shared here on your blog, but Dr. Doris Rapp is a great reference, if you haven’t already read all of her stuff :) She has documented behavioral reactions to not only foods, but other environmental exposures, such as artificial fragrance and mold. She has a couple of books, but if you have never seen it, Google her appearance on the Donahue show, where she discusses her work & shows videos of her patients’ behavior after exposure to various ingredients/environmental triggers. Some of the kids & their parents are also on the panel & discuss their experiences.

  31. The kids that ate the junk food really know how to party! \m/ >.< \m/

  32. I know that sugar and flour has these effects on me. My boyfriend didn’t quite believe me until I used baby formula in my coffee instead of podered milk.(long story on the mix up. Mexican market and english speaker). I was crabby, out of sorts, forgetful, mean, spacy and emotional. Baby formula is full of sugars.
    Now I am a grown woman who can express how she is feeling and it still took me a week to go “hey, this isnt right”. How is a child supposed to do that?

  33. This is so very true. As a teacher I see this in kids. I have been also working on my own diet and I do see big changes in my energy level. Thank you for this post!

  34. chrissy claussen says:

    My son is a different kid off of gluten. The teachers thought we medicated him. He’s doing so well in school now and in years past we’ve had many behavioral issues!!!

  35. Thanks for writing about food dyes and feeding our kids a healthy diet! I blog about our journey to becoming dye-free at “Die, Food Dye!”, and also publish other families’ stories as guest bloggers. I like your point about medications too. Our FDA stated that dyes exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD, and yet they approve the use of dyes in – ADHD meds! Would you please share my petition with your readers – I’m asking manufacturers of kids’ antibiotics, ADHD meds, allergy meds, cold remedies, pain relievers, vitamins, toothpastes and other personal care products to #DitchTheDyes. We can’t simply reach for a different brand of life-saving antibiotic after surgery in a hospital, or another brand of ADHD medication – like we can with macaroni or candy. Here is the link:
    Thanks so much for spreading awareness. ~ Rebecca

  36. This doesn’t really surprise me. My kids all love fresh vegetables and I often get comments about how well behaved they are. They don’t get a lot of junk food. My youngest amazes her preschool teacher and classmates with her complete obsession with bell peppers – they’re a nearly daily snack. My kids sometimes complain that they don’t get as much “fun” food as their friends, but they mostly like what they get. They’ve also learned that some healthy snacks can make their friends really jealous – pomegranate seeds were a huge hit.

  37. Cindy Sebetes says:

    I am not surprised at all by this article as I have a son who is living proof of how food affects us. He went from aggressive, hyper, rude, belligerent and loud to peaceful, quiet, polite and respectful after about one month of eating and drinking only organic foods. I was surprised, however, that more wasn’t written about sugar. Sugar today is not the same as it was when I was a kid. Most sugar in the U.S. now comes from genetically modified corn and genetically modified sugar beets. There are a number of problems with this. One, there are more pesticides in this sugar, and two, any nutritional value (fiber, for example) is stripped from the sugar. I’m not saying pure organic sugar cane is a good idea, mind you, just that it’s better than what is being added to many processed foods on the market today. Real sugar used sparingly in one’s diet is a much better alternative to consuming, even in small amounts, all the fake sugar we have today.

  38. I do believe that food impacts behavior but this study is not accurate. Who determined what kids should be in each group? I think the study should have been done with the exact same kids on two different days to see if the food impacts their behavior. I would love to see the results then.

    • It states in the post that the kids were chosen randomly. I agree there is more that could be done but getting someone to shell out the money for a true double-blind test is going to be tough. I think this was very well done considering the situation.

  39. Hmm, while I think this is quite onto something, I’m not so sure about it in its entirety. Just some thoughts:
    They’re basing a lot off of one special meal with one group of kids, aren’t they?
    A party would generally be a couple hours at most; that’s not enough time for the food to really digest. Some kids on the blue side seemed to not really eat much at all.
    Also, when the kids came in, they were addressed as “teams.” Yes, the yellow group was probably sugar-high, the blue group could at least hear (if not, see) them, and being calmer and more aware, want to behave better; perhaps they thought they were competing as teams.
    Did anyone tell the kids to go one at a time? There seemed to be an adult very near the blue group during the puzzle activity, even then buzzer one, but not the yellow.
    The video also showed younger kids of the yellow team and older kids for the blue, so that might have been biasing as well.
    Could there have also have been a bias with the researchers? For example, the blue group kids hitting each other with the balloons were doing so jokingly- does this hitting not count as aggressive behavior?

    • I don’t know if they mentioned the time frame that passed, but I will say that I can see sugar effects pretty quick.

      Was there really an age difference?

      • I think the time frame is only a few hours at most. It was an after-school program, and I’m sure it wasn’t a some marathon-party. I don’t know if the teams as a whole had a lot of age difference, I just meant what was shown in the video.

    • Hi Ashlee,
      Thanks for your comment. This isn’t the kind of experimental design that is sufficient to give definitive proof once and for all on whether food coloring, sugar, and other additives have a direct effect on behavior. I’m talking about the kind of proof that would lead the FDA to ban these substances (other than sugar). But the results are very telling. There’s still a lesson to be learned from the experiment.

      I don’t think parents can afford to wait for unbiased research to come along and decide what is harmful and what isn’t, especially since this can vary a lot from one kid to the next. It took decades for the medical community to acknowledge that smoking was harmful, (and the powerful tobbaco lobby had a lot to do with that). In the meantime, it was apparent that smokers got much more lung cancer. I think the same is happening with processed foods and the powerful food industry.

      So I think a more interesting question that whether they are basing too much on one meal is what is the best food to feed your child? I mean what’s the risk? That you will feed your children natural foods when you could have fed them processed foods? :)

  40. A good idea to test this but the test itself is inadequate. The children themselves know that they are eating different things and I assume the assessors were aware of what was eaten? There has also been a double blind test of children being given sugary drinks at a party. In this case, irrespective of whether or not the child had sugary drinks, the parents who had been told their child had the sugary drinks noticed an increase in hyperactivity, changes in behaviour etc… Half of these parent’s children had actually had water.

    I’m not saying that foods and additives don’t affect things, just pointing out that this is one very incomplete ‘study’

    • If you watch the video and listen closely, the parents did not know which group had eaten what. Even one parent is quoted saying “I think the blue group ate the sugary food and they’ve come off their sugar high.” which is a wrong assessment. (not a direct quote). Maybe watch it again :).

  41. What a great study, thanks for writing about it. For two of my children the biggest culprit is BHT/BHA/TBHQ, which are hydrogenating agents. I don’t know if that stuff is even allowed in the U.K., but here in the U.S. it’s in everything from chewing gum and candy to cereals and frozen foods. My children would eat something containing one of these and then become a different person. With my oldest we were wondering if she was autistic or disturbed at about age 3, when one of my friends suggested keeping a food diary to see if a particular food or ingredient was causing her behavior. We narrowed it down over time to food dyes and the hydrogenating agents. When we removed these from her diet, voila! the horrible behaviors stopped completely.

  42. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently adapted this way of eating for myself and my family – and have definitely seen a change in MYSELF! :) It is almost as though my entire outlook on life has tweaked. I have seen subtle changes my daughter, but am sure there are more to come! :)

  43. Another thing not mentioned in this article, and maybe not even considered, is Aspartame, and other fake sugars.
    I admit there is a lot of misinformation out there, but perhaps, mixed in with it, might be some information parents can use.
    Unfortunately, Aspartame is mixed in a lot of places: gum, pops (soda), cough drops, energy drinks, probably some chocolate bars. As parents, we have to read labels. (Boring, I know.)
    But, also, mixing a questionable diet with aggressive video games and even Cartoons (Have you looked at cartoons lately? Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner is mild, compared to some of the newer ones.)I well; I’m pretty sure it’s not a good mixture.

  44. I don’t disagree with the premise – I’m sure that eating good food is better for our kids, in many more ways than the above article mentions. But the ‘study’ described is hardly evidence. Please please please watch this. Understand how to make accurate decision is the most important skill you can give yourself!!!!

    • Sorry but I had to delete the link. I have issues w/ malware on other sites sometimes and this has been covered in other comments. Please read the follow up post as well.

  45. My son is 11 and has stuttered since about age 4. We’ve been through about every test there is, and years worth of speech therapy. Someone recently made the suggestion to me to look at his diet. (Duh! Why did I not think of that earlier) So we are cutting out food dyes first to see if that makes a difference. This article inspires me to make even bigger changes.

  46. Isn’t it powerful to recognize the behaviors we can “see”…now imagine the cellular behaviors we can’t see outwardly, but are being influenced internally and related to our FUNCTION. It’s a BIG deal. GREAT post, thank you!

    • So true, Lisa! My skin looks better on a paleo diet and I always think, just like I have fewer bumps and flaws on my skin (which I can see), I’ll bet my internal organs (which I can’t see) look healthier too. I know that liver from pastured chickens looks very different from regular liver.

  47. David Buschhorn says:

    Did they ask the two groups of kids how much fun they had? :-)

    What if the sugary kids enjoyed the party 700% more? Would it be worth it?

    • May I ask if you are sincerely asking this question? I’ll have Ruth drop by later to respond, but my opinion is no—it doesn’t matter. :).

    • If you had a kid in high school who was getting drunk with his friends on a regular basis, but suffering from hangovers and flunking out of school, you could also say he was enjoying himself more in the evenings because he wasn’t studying. So does that make it ok?

  48. Interesting article, but I’d like to see a link to the actual research study… the methodology, statistical analysis, etc. I also want to remind all of your readers that CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION. This is a basic Research Methods 101 concept. That means that the foods are not necessarily what caused the behaviors… any number of factors could have caused the behavior including one child who was ramped-up by the foods and then that behavior influenced the behavior of all of the other children.
    I also want to point out that while you focus on “setting kids up for success” by providing them with healthy foods, you ignore the fact that many of these foods are inaccessible for many people in our society. Recently, all food stamp recipients have taken a 15%-20% cut in their benefits, so guess what they are going to buy… the cheapest food possible which is often the most processed and chemically-laden food.
    Food is an extremely complicated issue… and most people are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

    • Thanks for commenting, Jenny.

      I will comment on one thing but I am sure Ruth will be over to comment. About the food stamps. Of course it is very complicated but our society is set up totally wrong in that arena. The family is taking a hit and that is one of the main reasons why this problem is occurring. We can’t continue to hand out food stamps and expect it to fix the problem. Even with the food stamps, that is what folks are mainly buying b/c that is what the media caters to and that is what is desired. When I am in stores I see the customers with food stamps with their carts loaded up with chips, candy, and the like and my friend sees the folks trading in their stamps for alcohol and more in stores that will give it out illegally.

      So the problem for sure isn’t that the food stamps have been cut.

      Truthfully, if the people really cared about getting the most food for their money they would buy veggies, rice and beans and food like that. That is how my family lived when we were at the food stamp level. Keeping families together encourages families to have more money. It is a proven fact that single parent families have less money to spend. And more time. So that way the mom and dad have more time to cook real food and not serve up quick junk.

      I appreciate your desire to see statistics, but look at your own comment as well. Do you have data to back up your claim that b/c food stamps are cut 15-20% that now folks are buying the most processed and chemically laden foods? I suspect the choices have remained completely the same and that those on the stamps are still buying their cigarettes, getting their nails done, etc. I know this is not an overarching truth, but in general that is what I have observed and I have been in circled like this.

      I could cite many examples of fraud, but maybe another time. I have personally witnessed them, have friends who worked in WIC offices who witnessed it, and I have connections in Canada where abused of their welfare system is unbelievable.

      I personally think one of the main causes of this is that it is a hand out. If someone isn’t invested at all they will chose what is their base desire. Get them invested, even a little, and the choices may change.

      Thanks and I look forward to hopefully seeing you around again.

      • Well, you won’t be seeing me around again. Your comment is so full of hate and classism that I can’t even respond to it. It seems that you would rather see people starve than make choices different than the ones you would make for them and that saddens me. I will pray that God enters your heart so that you can stop judging others that you really do not know, other than the contents of their shopping cart. Have a blessed day.

        • I am so sorry you feel that way Jenny. I am not filled with hate and classism. I am just making observations like you are. I don’t think the reduction in food stamps leads to bad choices. They are happening already and we agree – that the food issue is very complicated. Just giving people money doesn’t make them make good choices. And as for your prayer I am a sincere believer. I do know the people whom I mentioned. Personally. Not all of them, but many.

          Thank you but you have completely misunderstood me. I am glad you have a passion for the poor. I was working closely with a local group that did outreach to the poor in our city encouraging them to build gardens and I was asked to be on the board. There is another food pantry in town that works with all kinds of people including those on special diets. I have been talking with the owner about doing a course on cooking healthy foods from scratch. So, I think you can see that your assessment of me is incorrect.

          We all need to be careful making judgements about others and I think you made a judgement about my heart based on your own presumptions. I might be wrong, however, so feel free to respond if that is not the case. Thank you.

      • Thank you for voicing the truth about the inadequacies of the welfare system in a calm and logical manner. A bag of beans and a bag of rice is way cheaper than most all of the processed junk.

        • Thanks Tiffany. I really didn’t mean to come off as insensitive. I am. We have been sooo poor but worked our way out of it. Your comment means so much.

      • another thing to consider is food deserts. like bless you but if you havent taken three kids five miles on public transportation to a grocery store I don’t want to hear about how they should haul ten pounds of groceries back or try to cook in a kitchen approximately the size and use of a box of Kleenex.

        • I heard you about that and it’s a real shame. That is why I was asked to be on a board of a local group that was trying to get folks to grow their own food. As for the deserts, I honestly haven’t done enough research into it but there are plenty of folks in “non desert” areas who have access to the beans and rice and such and still choose the junk. I am sure you would agree. It’s natural, right? And even if they are buying the junk, don’t they still need to haul it home? I guess I am wondering what you are proposing–that they have it delivered? I am not trying to be insulting. I am sincerely wondering. Thanks.

        • Oh, and just so I can clarify, I lived without a car for awhile in a foreign country and I had to haul my groceries as well. It wasn’t fun but I did it. I think the problem is so tough – there are many things needed to fix it.

    • Jenny, this isn’t just a simple correlation. If I did an observational study and just measured how many people wore blue caps and how many people were obese and saw that the state where people wore blue caps were the ones with the highest obestity rates and concluded from that that hats CAUSE obesity, that would be a case of mistaking correlation for causation.
      Here there was a test group and a control group. They controled the variables except for the food. That’s scientific method, or at least that’s what I was taught in Research Method 101 in university. But to keep things in proportion, I think the experiment was carried out well but it still is only a one party, and it was carried out in the framework of a TV show. It isn’t definative proof of the sort needed to, let’s say, convince the FDA to ban a substance.

      You say I “ignore the fact that many of these foods are inaccessible for many people in our society”. I isn’t that I ignored it, but this wasn’t in the scope of the article. Some people have money but live in areas where it’s hard to find real food. Other have money and access to real food and don’t know how to cook even the most basics things. I was just trying to make the point that food influences behavior more than people think, and I believe that’s true.

      When I first discovered the importance of real food I was so sick I could barely leave the house. I wasn’t fit to drive either. In addition, I was between jobs so money was tight to say the least. Usually with all these challenges I would have eaten the easiest thing, but realizing how important food was to my recovery, I put good food at the top of my priority list. You can read more about it here.

      Not saying at all that it wouldn’t be difficult for someone who is on food stamps, but it’s also difficult for a single mom working 2 jobs to have a kid with ADHD.

  49. Great article! You might enjoy one I’ve written for the Natural Healthy Concepts Blog – keep spreading the word!

  50. I was interested in the article until I got to the first chart, the “Results”… someone is doing some fancy math. Last time I checked 30 + 8 = 38… not 120… and I’m not sure how they got 720 in the other column. is there more to this than is being displayed? Did I miss something?

  51. Jodi Jansen says:

    I have a 7 year old daughter and a 4 year old son. I try to feed us as we’ll as I can in a malnourished society and sugar has never been high on my list. However, there are always the grandparents, the friends, and of course the holidays to put us to the test. I noticed at an early age that my daughter could be extremely spacey at times, and through my own observation, trial and error, I realized that she is very sensitive to sugar… I could be four inches from her face, repeating her name, and she would be staring at something that wholly captured her attention. I have no doubt that I could have taken her in to a doctor and been referred to a specialist for something or other, but instead I chose to carefully monitor her food. This is made easier by homeschooling, but even today after attending a moms group at church, I noticed the telltale signs that made me ask, “What did you have for snack today?” To which she replied, “Cookies. I ate two and a half cups of little ones.” (Really? For snack?!) needless to say, homeschool did not go well for us today… But tomorrow is new, we start again. She really knows better by now, but it was a good lesson in why she shouldn’t just eat what other people give her… Even adults. And she is getting better at turning down sugary snacks, but it’s oh, so tempting.

  52. Carol Betts says:

    I just knew from my experience of raising 6 boys, having a mother in law who brought baked goodies, and. candy on weekend visits that sugar wasn’t a good thing for any of them! They were off the wall for days after a visit!. I asked my pediatrician, who was an specialist in endocrinology about this phenomena and he said this really is just an old wives tale. I said well, come visit me when grandma had been there! As much as I really liked this doctor, I knew he was unwilling to see this effect on our sons.

  53. I am so pleased to see this information being made public. I have been fully aware of the benefits of avoiding sugars, artificial colours, flavourings, preservatives for over 32 years as my second child was what would now be termed ADHD. I controlled his behaviour by adjusting the food and drink he consumed. The HASCSG (Hyperactive Children’s Support Group) was invaluable with the help and support they gave and was founded by a mum with a hyperactive child and set about finding out how to help him. Some of these children are badly affected by natural colours and foods too i.e. annatto, coffee, tea, tomatoes, oranges, malt to name just a few. There are several colours and flavourings which are not allowed in food but are in medicines designed specifically for young children. I also found smells i.e. perfumes, aftershave, bubble bath, shower gel, polish were also very effective at creating wild behaviour. Even coloured water at nursery, paint and felt pens affected children in my experience.

  54. This is the least scientific study I’ve seen performed. Anyone who is the least bit scientifically literate would be doubtful that this study has any useful results about the effects of food on behavior. I am ashamed to say that someone I am friends with on Facebook thought this was valuable in any objective sense. It’s one thing to support valid nutritional guidelines, and completely another to validate biases with sloppy research.

    • I don’t think you should be ashamed at all. We are performing experiments on kids and adults all the time and we are paying the price. We are putting garbage in our bodies and on our bodies and we think that we won’t get sick. I think the videos, while not double blind studies, were very telling and interesting. And I think the word needs to get out before the mess that we have created gets worse and worse. I do appreciate your commenting but by ignoring the problems we are creating we are ruining our lives. And those of future generations. Thanks.

  55. It was a great article but not a very scientific study. Ever heard of the gold standard for research? A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study? The man recording all of those “violent and hyperactive incidences” knew which group had what food creating bias. Plus, there was no control group to compare the two study groups to: a group of kids who got both types of food on their table. The two groups of children also got two different sets of adults to supervise them so they are bound to act differently in that regard as well. I am a registered dietitian who advocates for better nutrition but we are going to have to design better studies than this “made for tv experiment”.

    • They indicated that he didn’t know which group had which. It would be very hard to do a real scientific test b/c there are so many variables. Dyes, preservatives, white flour, sugar….etc. The main point is, we are not supposed to eat this junk and it is wreaking havoc on our bodies.

  56. Where was the control group?

    • Hi Danny. Sorry for the late reply. Your comment got buried. Please read the comments that have posted. I think you’ll find your question answered.

  57. Liz Muir Busby says:

    First of all, this isn’t a study; it’s a reality TV show. This would never pass peer review at any science journal ever. It’s little more than an anecdote.

    Second, many randomized trials have proven that sugar in fact does not make kids hyper. Watch this video for an explanation of the science behind it:

    Note that I’m not saying the whole foods aren’t great, or that we should feed kids nothing but processed sugary “food”, but bad science in service to a good cause is still bad science and deserves to be smacked down.

    • I’m not looking for something to pass peer review at a science journal. There are many peer reviewed articles that don’t pass muster in my opinion b/c the “peers” have biases. My husband is a professor. I know some of what goes on in academia.

      That being said, I am a research bug. I think it’s interesting that I just spent a bunch of time trying to find the 12 studies that everyone keeps citing and I can’t. I think I just found one but I would need to purchase it to look at it. And I don’t think that lying to parents and getting their “opinions” is a good way to evaluate kids’ behavior. Do you? That is one of the problems that I see. Of course, I can’t see how the parents evaluated the children.

      I think that everyone knows that sugar causes a rise in glycemic load to the blood and it causes a change in behavior. I honestly don’t see why this is hard to understand. I would like to know what you think though. Thanks.

      • Liz Muir Busby says:

        I would expect that you would have to pay to gain access to the studies, as most credible research institutions and publications require payment to read them. That’s how they can afford the peer review process and the costs of publication. That’s par for the course and not a worry. Most studies are difficult to find without access to academic databases on the subject. Try using your husband’s university library rather than Google. :D

        And no, I don’t think that lying to parents and getting their “opinions” is a good way to evaluate kids’ behavior. But that study is designed to measure parents’ bias in observing their children’s behavior, not the kids’ behavior itself. It measures how what we believe effects how we interpret behavior. Since there is no way to objectively measure behavior, this parental bias is important to take into account.

        As for bias in academia, you are certainly right; this is a problem in many areas of study. That’s why it’s important to rely on good study design and not something that “everyone knows.” Once upon a time, everyone knew that the earth was flat and that most diseases could be cured by blood letting. I have no doubt that we all have some beliefs today that will prove equally ridiculous in the course of time.

        Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of not feeding kids (or anyone!) processed junk. I just bought a wheat grinder this week. But I’m an equally huge fan of examining our own biases and not overstating our case just because the evidence agrees with us.

  58. There is a great book that really helped my neighbor with her son. “Is This Your Child?” by Dr. Doris Rapp. Dr. Rapp is a pediatric environmental allergist. She has advocated for years that it is food allergies and additives that cause ADHD. My friends son who is now 23 years old and was “diagnosed” at about 7 years old is allergic to corn, wheat, soy, dairy, legumes, garlic, and citrus. He was ballistic until his mom followed Dr. Rapps book and figured out exactly caused her son to react. With the elimination of the above listed foods, he was a normal, well behaved child. He could even tell you if he got ahold of something on the forbidden list. He didn’t like the way it made him feel or act. My friend also noticed a difference between beet and cane sugar, and cider vs. distilled white vinegar. We noticed with one of our own children that some, not all orange and root beer sodas would turn her into a monster within a matter of minutes. Never did pinpoint what the ingredient was that caused this reaction, but have avoided most sodas ever since we made the connection. (Soda’s have always been a “treat”)

  59. This post is so powerful! I shared in on Facebook, and Twitter, and with local school administration…I feel so very strongly about this topic…

    Thank you for sharing at Healing With Food Friday! Come back again this week – we are LIVE now!

  60. Janie Brandt says:

    Very informative

  61. Did anyone else notice that the blue group did not have access to the horns/noise makers? Only the yellow group had those.

    • Hi Mom2,
      I had another look at the video to check this out. Have a look at part 1. Minute 1:37 shows a “blue boy” with a noise maker. Also, you can see them on the table of the blue team at minute 1:54. There may be other instances, but I didn’t check after that.

  62. Hello,
    Although I agree with you about sugar and added chemicals and how they effect children, I was wondering if you later took the same children and reversed what they ate and monitored their behavior? It’s a necessity if you are really doing research in this area. If so, and the results were different, then you would really have some concrete evidence for your claims.

  63. I completely agree. I work really hard to keep my 2 year old away from sugar and preservatives but I feel like my list of foods I feed him is slim. Is there someone with a comprehensive list of appropriate foods?

  64. Vaune Pierce says:

    Check out the Feingold Diet ( which eliminates artificial colors and flavors, and the preservatives BHT, TBHQ,and BHA (these are all petroleum based). Also initially eliminates salicylates, but after the initial detox period, these are added back into the diet one at a time to see if they are tolerated. While often this is used for ADHD/ADD kids, it is also helpful to ALL kids, as it is a healthy way to live. If you join the organization (annual dues), you receive a booklet of foods that have been tested and are acceptable, so it is a bit easier to shop (at least in the US). We found that when our kids ate something ‘off the list’, it usually took 7-10 days to get the chemicals out of their system

  65. Logical Skeptic says:

    The “study” appears to be too small and not controlled very well: “Children in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party. They were split into two groups”. How many children? What was the age distribution in the group (5-9 is a pretty big age range with lots going on developmentally, and more of one age than another can lead to conflict)? How were they selected? Do they know each other? Are they used to going to parties? Do any of them have known developmental or behavioral disorders that might affect their behavior in large groups or unfamiliar surroundings? What are their normal diets like? What else was happening at the party? Was there loud music? Rowdy games?

    Too many variables, not enough subjects, certainly not enough time (one swallow doesn’t make a summer; one “party” doesn’t make a study you can use for information-gathering or drawing broad conclusions). I don’t doubt that feeding kids good food is good for them. But this “study” tells me nothing.

  66. Wowza, this is worth paying attention to! I am going to redouble my efforts to feed my kiddo healthy stuff! Thank you!

  67. Dyed foods and candy make my 5 yr old boy sick. We started to notice that candy with lots of dye was resulting in him becoming ill, usually toward dinner each time. He’d just go out like a light, then vomit a few times, then pass out with no dinner. No fevers involved and he wakes up fresh the next morning every time like nothing happened. It had happened inexplicably several times over the course of spring/summer. We then cut out dye altogether and he didn’t get sick for a long time. But then we stupidly we let him have a bunch of the colored up icing from an ice cream cake on his recent birthday last fall… next day found him sick on the couch, around 4:00 PM, at his actual birthday party with everyone waiting to sing him happy birthday outside. :-( Carried him out to hear them sing at least then went inside and he vomited and then went to bed. That pretty much confirmed that it was dye making him ill for us. Hope this helps someone out there with a similar situation.

    • Wow – thanks for sharing :(. I too have let my youngest have certain things (nothing too outlandish) and then later regretted it. And I’ve eaten things I’ve regretted later myself.

  68. Quite frankly I notice nothing different with any foods. My boys get cranky when hungry but that’s about it. We aren’t allergic to anything either. We are cutting way back on foods with lots of chemicals though… just because it’s probably better for us and it keeps getting easier to find stuff without artificial junk.

  69. It is good to point out -through study- that it is necessary and good for both parent and child that healthy food is consumed.
    Bar the food other factors influence a child’s behaviour: time (are they stressed to do something quick, feel pressured) and place (surroundings, music, noise, nature)
    Also, it is not clear from the videos:
    How are the groups chosen? (randomised)
    Are their abilities and behaviour monitored before the food/party? (maybe the blues are better (behaved) anyway…)
    But, off course, keep it going -onwards and upwards with the studies and research and information- and get it out there :)

  70. Blah, blah blah. You folks believe every stupid fade that comes down the pick. Keep playing the blame game. Geez… quit being so [deleted by blog owner] uptight and live.

    • Hello Dave. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am puzzled by your comment. Could you explain what you mean? Do you think that saying that food affects behavior is a fad? Sorry, but I did have to delete one word in your comment. I know it’s not a horrid expletive but please let’s use kindness in our communication of our ideas. Thanks :).

  71. Fascinating! I have to wonder if there was an emotional or psychological cue with the party food, too, even beyond the nutrients.

  72. We noticed a correlation between certain additives and our son’s behaviour many years ago, at a party, in fact. He was usually pretty well behaved, and non aggressive, but would occasionally just go a bit crazy, especially if we were out somewhere like a cafe, doing very uncharacteristic things like head butting my belly or being completely unable to sit still. He would have been about 4 or 5 I think.

    At a friend’s birthday party, he was doing great until after they ate, and then he just went crazy, running around and being quite aggressive to some of the other kids. Then he did something that I just couldn’t believe – he spat at his best friend. It was just like he couldn’t help himself. I was mortified, and decided right then that I had to work out what was going on, because this just wasnt like him. I thought about all the times he had gone a bit hyper, and found a link between drinking things with aspartame and sodium benzoate in them. He never had anything except water and milk at home, so it was fairly easy to deduce in a way. We stopped him having those things, and he stopped having these episodes. It was that simple.

    One of the really difficult things though, for lots of people, must be seeing that there is a solvable problem in the first place. If your child eats additives and sugar all the time, then the crazy behaviour would be the norm. How would you even know that their diet was having an effect?

  73. h bartelheimer says:

    I see another allergen that was missed. BALLOONS! We have a severe latex allergy in our home and it certainly affects our behavior! It can also be life threatening!

  74. GREAT TEST! the next would be do it on Meat-Eaters and Vegans.
    THAT will also show how blood/animal DNA affect our mood… (o;=

  75. Susanne Modigh says:

    I coud not see the videos, just got a blank page…

  76. C.S. Robbins says:

    As a university professor that teaches Research as one of my classes, the “experiment” for which this article was written is one that even my undergraduate students could easily pick apart. Not only was there a huge amount of bias evidenced in the videos themselves, they also lack any of the controls or randomization required to call this an “experiment”. It really tells us nothing substantial and can only be considered anecdotal (as one commenter mentioned) at best. You and your readers are best to discard it as sensational journalism and meaningless as a result.

    Is it more healthy for our bodies to eat less sugar and processed foods? Absolutely! There is no doubt in the medical community on that fact. But for more than 30 years the scientific community has been trying to establish a link between hyperactivity and food dyes and/or sugar but with mixed results. Is there a reaction when kids eat too much sugar? Maybe. But that could be more of an emotional reaction rather than a chemical one, research cannot substantiate this one way or the other. Additionally, there has been NO conclusive evidence to date to link ADHD with food dyes.

    Is it wise to limit sugar, food dyes, and processed food (i.e. junk food) for your children? Absolutely! For health reasons. But to say their behavior or ability to concentrate will be different because they eat these things is a stretch and there is limited scientific research to back this up. And it saddens me when I encounter parents who don’t allow their children the occasional treat just because of some blog they read on the internet.

    But that is just my two cents.

    • Hello Sir. Did you happen to read the follow up post? My husband is a professor as well and I am Phi Beta Kappa from a top university in the U.S. This clearly wasn’t painted as a double blind study, but I still think it is very valid info. Would you not agree with that? I do appreciate your chiming in. Thanks.

      Do you have data pointing to the mixed results? I would be very interested in seeing that research.

      One other thing is that I suspect you might be referring to studies testing only sugar, or only food dyes, etc. I think it is a very real possibility (while I do think that any one of these things might and do affect behavior on their own) that once you get multiple “stimuli” (food dyes, preservatives, gluten, sugar, etc.) all in one meal, you can have a cascading effect and therefore worsen the problem. Just like in the chemical industry, chemicals are tested one at a time for their effect on humans and animals–not together. So to say that this is problematic research isn’t considering this aspect of the situation.

      And I personally think that the real problem is that we have allowed more than the “occasional treat”. Our diet has become one processed food after another in most homes in the U.S. For a parent like myself who has seen the travesty that our Standard American Diet has caused on digestive systems and health in general, sometimes even and occasional treat can be and is way too much. Thank you again, though. I really mean it. Comments like this really challenge me to think about what I am saying and I do consider myself to be quite balanced and not alarmist, but I appreciate being pushed by my readers as well.

      • C.S. Robbins says:


        I read the follow-up post but it did not provide any rebuttal to my original points. As I mentioned, this has been studied scientifically for 30 years and they have not been able to substantiate a direct link between food dyes, sugar, and problems concentrating or hyperactivity. There are literally dozens and dozens of studies published in peer-reviewed journals that did not find a statistically significant correlation.

        I think, for the majority of children, these food products within moderation have no adverse effects whatsoever on behavior or cognitive ability. Keep in mind that I have two children, ages 9 & 11, both straight “A” students in gifted classes and with no behavioral issues. Now I do want to clarify that there are some children that so have food allergies and, for these children, these foods could cause digestive issues as well as other other reactions, some behavioral. But this is not the majority of children.

        Nevertheless, don’t think I was saying we don’t need to cut down on our consumption of processed foods, especially those high in sugar or fat content. We certainly do! But I take a serious offense to posts such as yours or others who state that our children are “suffering” or being poisoned because they are allowed to consume these foods occasionally, especially since there is no hard data to back up your assertions. And to the fact that your article was shared over 400,000 times on Facebook or other social media sites, passed off as some type of “research” that validates the biases communicated on your blog is a serious concern for someone who understands what real research looks like.

        • C.S. Robbins says:

          By the way, here is an article from the Stanford school of Medicine that references one of the studies I have read on the subject and further illustrates what I referenced earlier as the emotional reaction to foods that is usually more the culprit that parents observe rather than the actual food itself. This is ESPECIALLY true for parents who severely limit their children’s intake of these foods. Since the child is so often deprived of these foods, they have a more significant emotional response, and this only reinforces the parents erroneous thoughts about the foods.

          • Hello again,

            I appreciate your sending this on. I can see what you think about this but it could very well be that the child’s system is more sensitive due to it being exposed to such “non foods” less often. I have heard of this kind of phenomenon before. Perhaps you aren’t aware of it but this kind of situation occurs even with IgE mediated food allergies. If a child has a life threatening food allergy and then becomes able to eat the food, they are instructed to continue to expose themselves to the food on a regular basis so that their body becomes used to having exposure to the food. If they don’t do that, the chance that they will have a “restart” of the anaphylactic excessive reactions increases greatly.

            Something to think about.

            By the way, I did notice that you are an Instructor and not a Professor, and you don’t have a PhD, unless the information on your website is not up to date. Additionally you have no scholarly publications listed on your vitae. My husband, as I mentioned, is a Professor and personally I think that those who aren’t professors shouldn’t go around stating that they are such. Saying that you have a particular professional position, which you actually don’t, is not a logical argument and doesn’t add weight to your claims.

            You are welcome to respond of course, but please, please think about what you are saying and how you are and aren’t putting forth your own facts. Thank you.

            • C.S. Robbins says:

              I did not mean to misrepresent my position at the university and should have used the proper term for my position and certainly do not have any degrees in nutrition. My original reason for bringing this up was simply to state the issues with the “experiment” because I do, in fact, teach research. But I have worked in the field of mental health for 20 years, primarily working with children with mental health disorders, and so I am very interested in this subject and have read all the studies I have seen published.

              Like you said in your first post, I like to interact with others and challenge my thinking. That is why I am thankful for the dialogue we have shared. I will read the two studies you sent me and think more about this subject.

              • Hi again. I really appreciate your coming back and saying that. I didn’t think you were stating that you had a degree in nutrition and I don’t have one either. So you say you “have read all the studies” you “have seen published.” Do you mean on this topic?

                I appreciate the interaction as well. Believe me–I wish this all weren’t true and that I could let my kids, my husband, and myself eat whatever we want–even occasionally. I think the post on the “gut health myth” would interest you. And possibly others. If something peaks your interest, please do let me know. I can do my best to point you in some good directions. This post, albeit quite short and sketchy, might be of interest as well. I am a very busy mom and wish I could spend more time getting more info out there but I can only do what I can. I hope this, and perhaps other things, will be of help to you in your work. Of course, helping the kids is of utmost importance.

                • C.S. Robbins says:

                  I meant all the studies I have seen on the subject I have been sure to read. I certainly would not consider myself “well-read” on the subject and the only reason I initially responded was because the video reminded me of something I may shown in my class to have students identify issues they saw with the study.

                  But as I have looked over your blog more I see that you are very passionate mom in regards to your children’s nutritional health. My discourse over these last few comments is something I have shared with a good friend of mine who is a neurological chiropractor who is a strong believer in the Paleo diet. We debate each other in jest and I regret if my previous posts did not take that tone.

                  Thanks again for this discussion and I will read what all you have shared. I consider myself a lifelong learner so I am open to new information that may have a more significant researched correlation.

                  • I consider myself moderately well read. Of course, my time is limited and I often wish there were more time to learn and more trusted ways to do so.

                    I am passionate about their health, my health, and others’. But also about their emotional wellness and their spiritual life as well.

                    I have mixed feelings about the Paleo diet, with the name being a bit troubling as well – but that’s another story.

                    Thank you as well and again, jump back over if there’s something I can do. If I have time I am happy to do so. And please forgive me for my harshness. I got attacked quite a bit by the other man I mentioned and it was very troubling and didn’t end. I appreciate your candor and approach a great deal. Thank you.

        • Hello again “C.S.”,

          I do think it has rebuttal points for sure and I think my reply about items not being testing in conjunction with others is a concern.

          I would, as I said, welcome your data that you are referring to. I have found these that appear to state that there are issues:

          I could find more, but I do think this is, honestly, and I mean no disrespect by this, a no brainer.

          I do not have a PhD (neither do you appear to–see my next reply to your comment) but I am not an intellectual slouch. I in no way painted this (and again, I am not the author of the piece, but I do respect the woman who wrote it and the group that put the videos together) out to be a double blind study. I am well aware of the holes that could be poked in it, but there are plenty more holes that could be poked in mainstream medicine’s approach to medical care which is to continue to allow the consumption of “non food” items while dosing out pills to take care of symptoms that are only visible effects of what is going on inside of their patients.

          I too was a straight A student with no behavioral symptoms, but things started showing up later in life. And for so many in this day and age, that is what is going on. It takes time for these issues to build up and eventually they can end up even (and I do not mean this to be sensationalist) be devastating or fatal.

          I don’t understand why you say that you take “serious offense” to this post. I think putting non food in our bodies that were not made to handle this “stuff” is in truth a form of poisoning.

          Here is a post on what I am talking about: We can’t just keep saying “well, I ate Ho Ho’s and I am OK.” and not realize what is going on.

          And as for the sharing on Facebook, it sounds as if you are blaming me in some way for that. This is being shared b/c it is hitting a nerve and people see what is going on. Of course, just b/c something is shared doesn’t mean that (I am sure that Mylie Cyrus’ garbage was shared much more than this.), but I do believe that that is the case.

          Furthermore, just citing your own 2 children as evidence that this isn’t true flies in the face of what you are trying to disprove. You are criticizing this “evidence” b/c is doesn’t meet the scientific testing standards that you think should be there, but your 2 children and what you are stating by no means refutes what is written here.

          Finally, this conversation does remind me a bit of another PhD (assuming you have one) who was interacting with me in a critical manner on my essential oils series. There are many PhD’s who are very lacking in logical skills and he was one of them. Similarly just b/c someone is an MD doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong. In this case, I think the overwhelming anecdotal and other evidence points to the fact that this is true. In your family’s case, may you be so fortunate that you don’t have to see what is happening to our bodies as a result of the ingestion of junk and all of the toxins in our environment. I have seen the other side up close and personal on countless occasions and I will continue to get the word out as long as I can about what I think is one of the biggest health crises in our world today.

        • Hi,
          I just wanted to relate to your point that “I think, for the majority of children, these food products within moderation have no adverse effects whatsoever on behavior or cognitive ability.”

          This may be true. But let’s see for the sake of argument that 99 out of 100 children are completely unaffected by food, but 1% is affected. The effect on the 1% may be devistating. For those kids who do have ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, are hyperactive etc., for THOSE kids, I think you’ll agree that it’s imperative to at least try a clean, real food diet. We know that for some kids, their problems completely disappear when they take food coloring, other additives, wheat, dairy, something else, or some combination of foods out of their diet.

          Isn’t it worth a try?

          Personally, my best guess is that if we were able to isolate the effects of these foods and test children, we’d find that some are actuely affected, many are mildly affected (children who don’t have a diagnosis but are just difficult) and some are unaffected.

          I realise the TV experiment isn’t conclusive proof. But even if their results are off by 50%, it still shows that perfectly normal kids are quite affected by party food. Take it not as proof, but as food for thought (no pun intended!)

          Thanks for your input.

          • “Isn’t it worth a try?

            Personally, my best guess is that if we were able to isolate the effects of these foods and test children, we’d find that some are actuely affected, many are mildly affected (children who don’t have a diagnosis but are just difficult) and some are unaffected.”

            With the empirical results of behavioural improvements across thousands of kids over 40 years, the debate should over long before now… So yes, the only thing that will prove effective is action and thus I agree… It certainly has to be worth at least a try in preference to horrid drugs.

    • I have to disagree with you. Just because the scientific community has failed to find links between certain foods (sugar, dyes, preservatives, etc) and behavior does not mean there aren’t any. I am not super strict regarding my children’s diet (they aren’t denied sugar and I don’t freak out if they eat questionable stuff), but I have been trying to cull out all the processed nasties (food coloring and preservatives being high on that list). I have a very headstrong 6-year old daughter and I notice a MARKED difference in her behavior when she consumes products that have both food coloring and sugar (most specifically Trix cereal – which I absolutely won’t buy, but she’s had it at school and other people’s houses) – she becomes argumentative, cranky and belligerent. Sugar by itself does not result in that behavior and I tend to agree with Adrienne’s line of thinking that multiple stimuli can be the trigger. I do know that it’s not a scientific method of reasoning and there’s no double-blind study involved, but I know my children, as do most parents out there, and it always irritates me to see the scientific community dismissing our knowledge of our children as ‘coincidence’ or ‘old wive’s tales’ simply because they can’t find scientific correlation.

  77. That’s great information, but I can’t help but wonder… did they take the same focus groups and do the experiment again while flip-flopping the test cases? Meaning did they ever observe the “party food group” without the effects of the party food to see what the kids were like under “healthy” food conditions and vice versa? skewed results if not…

    • The groups were divided randomly. There are test designs in which the test group and the control group switch, but this isn’t standard research design. The bias should be taken care of by randomly dividing the groups.

  78. I do agree with the gyst of the article, but I actually think that the color of the clothes played a large role, too. They have the children that they would hope would be calmer in a calming blue shirt, while they have the children that they would feel to be more active in a bright yellow. Again, I’m sure the food was the driver here, but I also feel that color has a large part in this, too.

    • I would think the overall colors in the room would play more of a factor than the colors one is wearing – don’t you think? But good thing to point out.

  79. I couldn’t get the links to work, so I couldn’t see exactly what the children had. Did the soda have caffeine? Was the candy chocolate (which has caffeine)? Ingesting a STIMULANT could have be the culprit… it is hard to understand a study without specifics. I work with young children every day and see all types of food and all types of behavior. I’ve seen kids eat organic apples and be mean. I’ve seen kids eat cookies and marshmallows and be model citizens. Don’t get me wrong, I advocate nutritious eating for children, but I am not that convinced of drastic, immediate, short-term behavioral effects for gluten, sugar and dyes. (I do see it for caffeine, yet this is not addressed at all in this article!!)

    • Hi Mary. Did you try a different browser? A few people haven’t been able to see the videos so try again. I think the minority, if any of the foods, had caffeine. Thanks.

  80. I can’t get the video to work?

  81. Denny Storley says:

    All Gater aids and power aids have these colors in them what electrolites can I give my son when he is playing soccer in 90 degrees and water just wont do. Coconut water?

  82. I have to say, my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in 2nd grade and the school forced me to put her on meds. She started on Concerta and after a couple years moved on to Adderall. Not really knowing the long term effects I really didn’t like her being on meds. I started doing some research and eventually put her over the past summer on a non GMO diet and really watching what she consumes. WOW!!! She took herself off her meds at the beginning of October after her first report card. I went in and spoke to her teachers to let them know to keep me informed. For once, the teachers didn’t fight me on her coming off her meds, most of them praised the positive change in her attitude and demeanor. I’m proud to say we got her interum report the other day and she is doing just as well off her meds as she was doing on them. Before when we took her off she went from A’s and B’s to D’s and F’s. Now she is steady A’s and a couple C’s which she is working hard to bring up. There are still some learning problems, but we are working with her on helping her overcome them and I know time and keeping her on a more whole food diet is the best medicine. More parents need to read studies like this and really try it with their own kids. It is so worth it!

  83. Lyle Davis says:

    I see sugar on your list, it is everywhere, even back in the 60’s we called the “White Death”. Now more and more they are speaking of it as the number one Cancer Food.

  84. Morag Ann Wardrop says:

    All adults should monitor their input of additives as it affects us all

  85. ABSOLUTELY, food chemicals cause neurological dysfunction. I am a living example of this. As a child I had moderate Tourette’s Syndrome with many different tics. I did not outgrow this, but at age 30, overhauled my diet to eliminate all my known triggers. Even in 1980, they were telling kids with Tourette’s to avoid MSG, food coloring, and sugar. I knew those were to be avoided from childhood, and at 30, I added more of my own: anything I couldn’t pronounce on a label and the Dirty Dozen top contaminated non-organic foods, which I replaced with organic instead. Also I eliminated household cleaning chemicals and molds. My Tourette’s is now gone 350 days of the year. It will return mildly if (1) I have a virus or infection, even if I’m not yet aware of it or (2) I have major hormonal swings, like pregnancy/PMS, or (3) I unwittingly eat a food with unlabeled chemicals or am exposed to molds or cleaning chemicals accidentally. My own body is essentially functioning then as a blind study because I don’t realize I’ve eaten something wrong until I have the reaction, and then I have to go digging to find the cause. In other words, it isn’t psychosomatic. Tourette’s, tics, ADD, ADHD, OCD, asperger’s, and autism are all autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and although they present differently, they have the same root causes and similar treatment approaches. ASD children are genetically predisposed to be particularly sensitive to vaccine injuries, viral injuries, and toxic overload, which leads to a spectrum disorder in a higher number of cases than children without this genetic predisposition. ASD symptoms are always, 100% ALWAYS exacerbated by neurotoxic chemicals in their food and environment when they already have a disordered nervous system. The word for these food chemicals in the spectrum disorder field is a “trigger.” The Tourette’s Syndrome & ASD clinic at our city’s Children’s Hospital told my parents many times over – these food chemicals are “triggers” to be avoided. The genetic predisposition is why it often appears to run in families, yet it is not a predetermination because the injurious part (vaccines & viruses & toxic overload being most commonly known so far) doesn’t always happen. Here’s a challenge that will convert you if you’re still on the fence: feed yourself and your children nothing but real foods, defined as something you could grow in your backyard somewhere, something they sell on the outer edges of the grocery store not the middle, for one week. Then, give everyone a bag of Skittles and see what happens.

  86. Interesting. Can you tell me article in which this study was published?

  87. This has been my personal experience for many years. We wrote about our journey here:

  88. Steven Woller says:

    Can you link to the test that this article refers to?

  89. Good Grief, why are we still having this discussion?

    Back in the early/mid ’70s one of our boys became a very unruly child (quite the monster) when attending parties or barbies and the like.

    About the same time a condition called Hyperactivity was identified and the causes established, those being food additives, the same as mentioned in this article and more, including aspertame.

    The background to this is that we did not normally feed our kids on this junk, so to us the cause of the bad behaviour was a no-brainer and the cure likewise.

    Following this, big pharma caught on and produced a set of drugs that could control the behaviour and at the same time extract bucket-loads of money from unsuspecting parents. Of course, Hyperactivity was widely known so they simply invented a new term “ADHD” to describe the same thing.

    This study simply confirms what has been known for over 40 years and happily there is a solution. If enough parents remove the poisons from the shopping list, manufacturers will offer real foods so that they can continue in business.

  90. I agree with the premise of the article except where you are putting sandwiches in with the healthy food. Wheat is not a healthy food. Read Wheat Belly and Grain Brain.

  91. I really liked your new clip on children’s foods at parties.
    I am thaaaat mom who brings a tiny bag of prized yogurt pretzels (4 pretzels) and organic banana chips (that do contain sugar) to toddler parties were my child, almost four years old, will be presented a blue iced shelf stable, aka partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, soy, and gmo sugar frosted blob on a bromated cake base. He will be lucky if there are eggs in it. And he will with great self control say no thank you and quietly eat his tiny snacks as he watches all their tongues turn blue.
    This is a kind of painful part of our lives. I want to say how much poison is okay in the name of a celebration of a child? How much toxin is just for this day? I was guessing we average 15 parties a a year. (Birthdays, wedding, holidays that are hosted by friends or family that roll their eyes at me.)

    We had a party when he was three. Mom’s were very concerned that I was not serving cake. I have never made him a birthday cake. Why? Because I LOVE HIM, and I respect his tiny body, and I deeply believe that every bite until six counts to build his brain. Every bite. So I made a 3D dinosaur watermelon sculpture with lots of fruit. Organic and way more costly than Kroger cupcakes. BUT safe, and real, and yummy.

    I live in the USA, where we manufacture all sorts of chemicals and preservatives to extend artificial food, many which are banned in other first world countries. It boggles my mind.
    I kind of want to print this study and pass it out. Or wave it like a victory flag. Thank you. I added you to my media news.

    Take care and thanks again. Katylin

    • I wish I could have seen the dinosaur—neat!!!! I too think every bite counts. I really try–to this day. When I ingest some GMO corn I feel I have done something really bad to myself. And I fear that, in fact–I have. :(.

      • Here’s a great watermelon idea Looks like they had a lovely party, without food coloring!

        I notice the same thing happens with grownup parties. I have a group of mutual friends and when we get together, each one in turn feels obligated to serve coke, cakes with artificial ingredients (that frankly taste like cardboard) etc. and other junk, but they do it for everyone else’s sake. Each one of them is on a diet, and each one separately has said that they personally don’t want to eat the junk, but what choice do they have?

        I got to the point where I stopped caring about what I’m “supposed” to serve. There is no coke or other soft drinks offered. Sorry. I serve real food and everyone says what a great idea it is…. They are happy to eat something that tastes good and doesn’t make them feel guilty.

        But, when it’s their turn to host, they do the same.

  92. Hmmm…this was rather interesting. I think I’m gonna print it out and give it to my son’s teacher and school counselor so they stop harassing me to take my son to the doctors to be evaluated for adhd when it’s already been done once and he didn’t even hit half the markers to show a red flag for it

  93. I tried to open the video clip and it was just blank. please can you send me the link to this em address. i am really interested to see this as this is what i teach on!!! My website is Monsters to Munchkins and my first book i wrote is called Raising Happy Healthy Children (food and behaviour!)

    • I think the links were right above the images. I have had a few readers say that they can’t see them. Have you tried a different browser? And would you mind telling me what browser you are using? Thank you :).

  94. Payam Adlparvar says:

    Very very poorly done study! Although I believe very strongly that food has this type of influence and it would have been a great way to prove it, this study had no control groups and undue influence by the testers to have acceptable or meaningful results. Not scientifically acceptable methodology! Too bad since simple changes would have made it quite acceptable and useful! Once again a great effort ruined by poor science!

    • Hi Payam. Did you happen to read the follow up post? I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks.

      • Adrienne and Ruth, Yes, I have now read the follow up post and must reaffirm that as valuable as anectodal information might seem to be, it is inconceivable that in this day and age we still accept them as fact! In this study some very obvious and very influential variables were introduced. The infuence of a male supervisor vs a female. The blatant encouragament and suggestion of the female supervisor asking a child if the drink gave more energy. To eliminate some, the same groups could have a week or so later been given another party with the opposite ‘party foods’. This would have at the very least nullified the effects of some of the variables Ruth seems to think are impossible to remove. I can go on and list all the issues with this study but space does not allow that. To Ruth’s point however, many well thought through scientifically correct studies have still given misleading results due to uncontrollable or even unanticipated variables.

        I will again reiterate that I do believe that food has a very significant effect on our nervous system, mood and obviously behavior, but to put a study like this up as evidence is opening the door to many of the nay sayers and allowing them to pick it apart to prove their point. I do know from testing my own three children over many years and I got numerous different results. One of my children was extremely sensitive to food dyes (blue in particular) and when mixed with sugar (almost always is) he spun like a top! My second child did not show any sensitivity to the food colorings however, sugar seemed to have a mild effect. My third was somewhere between the other two. Over the course of some fifteen years I noticed a weakening of the effect, but when they where tired or stressed, the effect was enhanced. I became aware of how different foods were effecting adults as well. All of my findings, even though carefully collected and documented are no more significant to the scientific community than old wive’s tales because they were not done in a proper scientific fashion. I agree with that and prefer that to everyone throwing their ideas and opinions in as fact when there is nothing but anecdotal evidence supported by more anectodatal evidence. There is a reason why we have carefully designed scientific experiments and peer review to stop the confusion which has caused one tide after another of misunderstandings and opinions direct and guide peoples actions and behaviour.

        There is no question that more natural and less processed foods are better for us. There is ample scientific proof in the proper studies that have been done in the medical and nutrition journals. Please lets not present our media hype as scientific eveidence!

        And Ruth, if you realy can’t have the control that you need to perform a study, then you don’t have a study.

        • Payam, I see that you really seem to be trying to go about this by insisting on pure double blind studies and all that, but the responses that Ruth and I have both put forth state our case very clearly. I wonder if you would like to contact the source of the videos and tell them that you think their program is flawed.

          Here’s one of my main points. Our bodies were made in a precise manner and they were made to run on real food. Not on garbage.

          We have been feeding them garbage and putting garbage into them and on them for years and it has only gotten worse and worse in recent years. It is a perfect storm and we are seeing the fallout now with more and more cases of autism, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and more. I wrote about some of that here and here.

          No one can tell me in any conclusive way that this isn’t the case. You can’t expect to put junk into and onto our bodies and not expect to see the effects at some point. And I don’t need a double blind study to tell me that it isn’t the case. It is.

          Science has its limitations and it isn’t testing the combinations of toxins, nor the combinations of food dyes with sugars and preservatives. The scientists test one thing at a time and proclaim it to be safe–meanwhile more and more people get sick and die.

          And are prescribed more and more drugs.

          The answer is simple. Eat naturally. Put natural stuff on your body. Reduce stress. Cut pollution. Otherwise you will pay for it at some point.

          I hope you can understand where I am coming from.

          And Ruth didn’t have the study. She just brought it to our attention and I thank her for that.

          • Adrienne, you stated that you would love to hear what I thought, and I obliged by reading the suggested article and writing back. Basically I did as you asked. Also if you read my response completely you would understand that I agree with your main point that we should be eating healthy foods. What is one’s understanding of healthy vs unhealthy food is also subject to interpretation and might need clarification, but I will leave that subject to another time and place. To reduce confusion, I would like to respond to your last statement, point by point:
            1. Nowhere in any of my comments have I suggested or even mentioned a double blind study.
            2. In both Ruth and your responses you seem to be trying to elevate anecdotal information as fact and regarding it as what might be considered significant scientifically. As many other comments and responses to this article made it clear, that is wrong and unreasonable given the current established state of our scientific reasoning and methods.
            3. I have absolutely no qualms about contacting the source of the videos and informing them of their erroneous approach and protocol. I am sure they are keenly aware of that.
            4. Our bodies have evolved over millions of years and have adapted to digest certain foods, and yes, introduction of many chemicals not normally found in our diet historically, and also the misuse of certain food groups and chemicals due to economics of the industry are more than just mood changers and behavioral modifiers, but are actually the cause of numerous diagnosed and undiagnosed ills as well.
            5. It does not look like anyone is trying to tell you that your conviction regarding feeding ourselves healthy food vs unhealthy is in any way erroneous.
            6. Yes, science has its limitations, but its limitations are mostly the result of the limitations of its data collection, and its erroneous interpretation. Like you said, science is also subject to ‘garbage in garbage out’.
            7. You make some blanket statements about science, its testing methods and prescribing more and more drugs. As I am sure you are well aware, science has little to do with the economics of the health care industry or its desire (or lack thereof) to heal people.
            8. I absolutely agree with eat healthy, reduce stress and pollute less or we will pay the price.
            9. I have understood your point well, from the very beginning and agree with it. It seems that you have missed my point. Mine is that you can’t prove or convince everyone with poor ‘science’.

            It seems that I have upset you in some way as your last response seemed full of emotion. Please accept my apology if that is the case. My intent has only been to bring to your attention, as have many other posted comment, that what you are presenting as a ‘study’ and possible proof of the effect of bad food is nothing but an anecdote and scientifically lacking and unconvincing.

            I think both our points have been made abundantly clear and dragging this side discussion on is of little benefit to anyone.

            Keep up the good work and hopefuly the sources of your information will use better data collection practices and more scientifically acceptable methods. May you always be blessed.

            • Hi again, Payam. Thanks for responding. I have a load on my plate so forgive me if this sounds terse.
              1. You didn’t explicitly mention double blind but of course that is what you were insinuating if you aren’t satisfied w/ unscientific evidence since dbl blind randomized testing is what is commonly accepted in the scientific community.
              2. We haven’t elevated it in the sense that you say, but if you reread out statements you will see that we are saying that it is not feasible to do testing that matches what is going on in the world. We were pointing out that there is a real handicap in the scientific testing for many reasons. We have outlined them numerous times in the comments.
              3. If you would like to do so please do :).
              4. I don’t believe in evolution. That is a different topic but it is a theory and even Darwin pointed out its flaws. There are so many holes in that theory that I am honestly shocked that it is believed by many in the scientific community.
              5. Yes, many have told me in the comments that my conviction is only based on anecdote and that I am making a big deal out of nothing.
              6. I don’t think this needs a response.
              7. I think science has a lot to do with the economics of the healthcare industry. Money comes from drug companies and they are tightly tied into the insurance companies and the doctors and the research institutions. It is a HUGELY biased industry all the way around. Look at the autism/ Pharma debate.
              8. Yes, we are paying it already.
              9. I get your point but I am arguing that it is like arguing in circles due to the things I have outlined in this comment and in the other one. We will never get scientific testing like what you want for this kind of situation. But pure common sense needs to trump in this situation b/c it is so obvious that putting garbage in yields to behavioral issues. How could it not? And of course, the follow up post had more info as well that goes beyond common sense.

              I don’t see this as “dragging”. I think that topics such as this are important and that it is of great benefit to my readers to learn how to think and reason in the marketplace of ideas.


              • Adrienne, I agree with your original point, and would like to add that you and I have in some way also proven it! When two such extremely opposing perspectives agree, there must be some undeniable truth to it.

                We each have some strong convictions and opinions which we obviously do not share or agree with. I have tried to be understanding of yours and hopefully show in a respectful way where some might require reexamination. Nowhere have I assumed or taken one of your statements to mean anything other than what you have explicitly stated. I believe that God has given us the power of reason and it has, in one way, culminated in the development of our scientific process. As to who is more right or more wrong in this discussion, I prefer to leave that to your readers to decide for themselves. At this point I will bow out of continuing this discussion. May you always be blessed.

                • Very interesting perspective :).

                  I hope you aren’t offended. I think that you can see that I really think that the scientific situation here can’t be dealt with in the way that you would like. First of all, the funding will not be there. I doubt most of my readers will read all through the comments but I hope that they all try to reason these things out as necessary. It seems you think that I took your statements out of context. If so, feel free to tell me despite your “bowing out.” I am swamped and also need to be careful how much more time I spend on this. I deeply respect scientific analysis, but also realize the biases and limitations thereof.

                • Hi Payam,

                  I think we all actually agree on the most important point, and this is that we need to eat unprocessed, real food to stay optimally healthy.

                  I do actually appreciate the point you are making. The experiment is done in the framework of a TV show. It’s not perfect.
                  Here’s where I think looking for definitive proof can hold us back. Let me give you an example.

                  In the same show, a small boy is taken to see one of the doctors. He is covered pretty much head to toe with eczema – constantly suffering. Nothing his doctors had prescribed helped. No one mentioned the possibility that food could be a factor.
                  According to Western medicine, the cause of eczema is unknown (check, for example, the Mayo Clinic or the National Eczema Association websites).
                  My point is, that a person suffering from eczema can go to doctors and search the web, and not find out that diet MAY be a factor.
                  Honestly, I know nothing about eczema research, but I’m sure there is a reason the official sites (or at least the ones I looked at) don’t mention diet as a factor. There probably aren’t definitive studies proving that food can affect eczema. Of course, the vast majority of clinical trials are funded by pharmaceutical companies, so how would you do the kind of large scale research that would prove this point?
                  The doctor on the show recommended dietary changes (they had him tested for allergies / sensitivities) and the problematic foods were eliminated.
                  The boy’s terrible eczema simply disappeared. In truth, he got his childhood back.
                  I used eczema as a random example, but it could have chosen something else.
                  So Payam, yes, we could wait around for those robust clinical trials to really and truly prove that diet effects behavior, ADHD, eczema, migraines, acne… you name it, but in the meantime, people are really suffering. That’s why I think this less-than-perfect, but (in my opinion) quite nicely designed TV experiment can be helpful. It doesn’t proof anything definitively, but it gives us proof of concept.

                  Thanks for your input.

    • There actually was a test group (the one that got party food) and a control group (the one that got healthy or healthyish food).

      In my opinion, when it comes to food, it’s impossible to control all the variables. One kid may be sensitive only to one particular dye. Another child may be sensitive to that dye, but only when it is found together with another chemical – a confounding factor. Maybe a child in the control group getting the so-called healthy food is sensitive to wheat and another to dairy. (I’m sure what the researchers defined as healthy food is not what I would define as healthy food). I could go on… There are confounding factors galore!

      I’m sure if you added add the different chemicals and additives in all the party food, you’d get a very large number of food colorings, preservatives, and other chemicals, plus the sugar. That’s a lot of variables.

      In addition, a truly controled experiment would also involve giving each kids precisely measured amounts of the same food and seeing that they ate it. Try tell a 7-year-old that he has to eat a cookie that he doesn’t like, and that he can’t have another candy that he desperately wants.

      And there are long term effect of food. What about the foods they ate before the party? Maybe they would have stop exposure to certain substances (but to what?) for a week or a month before they were free of the effects of that food. How would you control for that?

      You simply can’t control every variable in a food experiment.

  95. I couldn’t agree more with the conclusion, Trust me, I’m a believer that food affects behavior drastically! I think in order to gain the trust of more readers, it’d be awesome to include things such as the study group size, controls, etc. I did read your response article- and I agree about anecdotal evidence being powerful. I think that most people’s “fear” about trying/committing to a diet change is mostly just habit- and comfort, and cost, and time, and convenience, and social norms/culture. Perhaps for people who are so strongly attached to their current diet in all these ways, no research could convince them to eat real food until it becomes the norm. However, especially for nurses and med students/MDs etc. (who sadly are not taught any of these things in school), a bit more info on the study COULD be the difference between brushing a claim like this off to considering it more thoroughly. Now, I am totally the type who does just enough research until a truth resonates with me and scarcely remembers scientific reason to share, and I could not see myself trying to convince others with all kinds of scientific data- don’t have the patience, so I’m not judging your style if yours is a similar reason. I just think sharing more of it would be valuable for a lot of people! (Whenever I share my opinion on something like this, I always have a friend who says “did you even check to see if the studies were done well?”, etc. etc. and I guess hearing this enough has caused me to care a little more about it before I share something as knowledge, though I may believe it is. Anyway, thanks for sharing and keep the work going! Much love

  96. As mama to three kids with celiac and food allergies and intolerances (with food allergies and celiac myself) I will tell you that this is SO VERY VERY TRUE! My daughter has celiac and 24 food allergies, half of which are anaphylactic, the other half of which are not yet. Some of the latter give her EXTREME (as in: need an exorcist STAT!) behavior reactions just by inhaling or coming into contact with them. Her allergist has even written this into her 504 plan. Corn exposure has her wanting to kill herself (at age 6.5!), or go away b/c she’s “bad”, or crying for no reason at all. It also gives her digestive issues, eczema, bloating, and extreme joint pain. In addition to foods, many of her environmental allergies affect her behavior, with the worst being molds. The girl goes out of control with big exposure – eyes rolling back, kicking , screaming, tantruming, etc. She doesn’t recall any of it later, after benadryl has worked its magic. THANK YOU for this article!

  97. Thank you for sharing this. I am a pregnant Paleo mom, and I strive to feed my toddler a Paleo diet as much as possible, although I come across some resistance. It’s a shame when people don’t say a word to parents who feed their kids fast food and frozen processed pizza, yet they judge me for limiting her grain consumption.

  98. Hi Guys,
    I have just read your article and finally I can say with certainty that the foods we eat are affecting us because of what is put into them. I constantly hear about people complaining about how years ago there weren’t as many illnesses as there is now ie ADD, ADHD, ODD etc. A lot of people still find these illnesses a fallacy. I’m going to be sure to pass this article on to them. I also believe that adults behaving badly has a lot to do with the foods they eat ie road rage, more violence, less patience etc. If only people would go back to eating healthily, organically and naturally, then we may see an improvement in not only our environment but also in ourselves with less illnesses ie cancers, Alzheimer’s etc.

  99. I have been eating good, nutrient dense, whole food most of my 54 years. My body never could accept any type of fast food (even when I worked at McDonalds) Most people thought I was weird. I do drink sodas (not diet). I have severe problems with aspartame. My children were all born with food allergies so I made all baby food and sent snacks and lunches to day care and then school for them to have. The day cares and schools will fight you on sending food. The most important thing I have found is that my children behave much better if they get a good snack/some protein and fruit every couple of hours. Try this with your children and watch the difference. My children have all been straight A students. Food does make a difference.

    • The day cares and preschools get paid by the USDA, on a per meal served reimbursement setup. I used to have a home day care and used the USDA’s program.

  100. Danny Wertsbaugh says:

    What I like most about this is the profound absence definitive declarations about the results! There were NO gross statements as regards the specifics of diet. It was clearly an intelligent assessment of the results!
    VERY GOOD! I love that!!!!!

  101. Were the children then split into the same groups and feed the opposite foods on a later date for an accurate study?

    • No – but if you read the thread of comments you can see why this wouldn’t satisfy most folks looking for an “accurate” study anyway. I still think it is really telling.

  102. Karina Sayrols Rangel says:

    Hello! I found this article very interesting.
    I’m from Mexico and have my own blog (written in Spanish) and would like your permission to translate this article and post it on my blog (mentioning yours as the original one of course!)
    Thank you very much for your attention and for sharing!

    • I am thinking that Google wouldn’t be fond of that regarding SEO. Did you do it? Thanks. Sorry for the delay – I have been so backed up w/ comments.

  103. Let’s not five crappy parents an out. If ur child behaves badly u should look at ur parenting skills not what’s in the frig. Bad parent raise unruly children point blank period… P.S. I’m a parent of three(2 girls & 1 boy). Oldest is on the honar roll at a magnet school and the other in pre-k reading 1 grade material. And I let them eat what they want half of time. Give ur kids the attention they want and deserve and they feel no need to act out for it. Be there and be aware !!!!!!

    • Hi Muhammed. It is not that simple. Plus, it sounds like you are calling me and Ruth (and all the others who have said food changes improved their children’s behavior) “crappy parents.” Not nice and it’s a really insensitive and callous thing to say.

      I am happy to have input here but not that kind. Thank you.

  104. Thank you for sharing. Love the article. My son has Autism and I myself have noticed how much food impacts behavior and the ability for him to focus, concentrate and be calm. I have tested it out myself and on days that he has had sugary food or foods chock full of artificial flavoring you could tell something is up. (Mood swings, laziness, inability to focus.)He is 8 and very aware of the affect food has on his mind and body, so the transition to a more healthy way of eating seems like it won’t be a problem. Finding more food options that do not contain so many chemicals and extra additives however does. Once again thank you for sharing. The word needs to get out there.

  105. Anytime my niece came over so we could visit together her mother would often send her with a can precooked spaghetti and sauce or beef raviolis. She was always well behaved until she ate lunch and really started to push my buttons. My mother suggested it was a red dye in the sauce along with the extra sugar. I never had a problem with offering her something simpler like a sandwich and a glass of milk and she was as sweet as she had ever been. Thanks for sharing the study, I’ve dealt with it first hand and the difference is amazing!

  106. I have always thought this to be the case. Currently I work in a mental health clinic watching parents struggle with their kids and behaviors….they come in with fast food, candy pop. No one wants to take responsibility to change when it’s so much easier to just put them on medications.
    There are children that must have these medications…but maybe, just maybe many would not. Maybe those that do wouldn’t need so much if we stopped feeling our children chemicals.

    Just a thought.

  107. I see this behavior in my nephew all the time. As soon as he eats any sugary, processed foods his whole demeanor changes, like Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde. He goes from a sweet kid to a mean, aggressive hyperactive brat with no attention span whatsoever. Add video games to the mix and it’s even worse.

    And his mom just does not get it. She is a smart woman but completely doesn’t see the connection between these types of “foods,” if you can call them that, and bad behavior. I think so many parents want to give their kids everything and don’t want to be the bad guy so will give them whatever they want without setting boundaries, including way too much sugar. Or they bargain with their kids with sugar. “If you behave we’ll go get an ice cream.” Most American kids are getting hundreds of grams more sugar a day than recommended and you can see it is like heroin to them. They really are overdosing on the stuff.

    Sorry, parents who disagree, but you are totally in denial. Stop making excuses for your child’s bad behavior and start looking at what you are feeding them and the boundaries you are not setting for them. You really are doing a disservice to your kids by not looking out for their best interests.

  108. stan pratt says:

    HI !
    Would be nice to see another party.. with the foods switched.. same kids.. Would give a LOT more credibility to the test. Not disagreeing in any way.. but would eliminate the possibility of all the “rowdy” kids getting the sweets,, and the quiet kids getting the healthy food. When you get the new results, averaged with the 1st test.. you will get a TRUE result for the group..

  109. Michael Baker, LCMFT says:

    I was very supportive of your article until I read, “Sugar causes hyperactivity.” Although too much sugar can do a lot of things, there is no conclusive research that shows it is linked to hyperactivity. That is simply a myth that people have been falling for, for years. So, when your article mentions that, it loses a lot of creditability, to me.

    • HI there and thanks for commenting. I will let Ruth address this but I looked at some of the supposed info on the internet about how this doesn’t happen and personally I don’t agree. Sugar, in the short and long term can cause this. I will address the long term first. It can cause gut dysbiosis which is linked to a myriad of behavioral issues. As for the short term, everyone can speak to having a sugar high. I just don’t really understand why this isn’t something widely accepted. What do you think?

    • Hi Michael. Sorry I lost you with that one line. :)
      First of all, I wrote that sugar contributes to hyperactivity, not that it causes it. That’s a significant difference.
      One reason research may mislead is if sugar actually doesn’t affect the vast majority of people, but has a dramatic effect on a very small minority. Outliers may be ignored.
      For instance, one of the commenters above wrote the following:

      I know that sugar and flour has these effects on me. My boyfriend didn’t quite believe me until I used baby formula in my coffee instead of podered milk.(long story on the mix up. Mexican market and english speaker). I was crabby, out of sorts, forgetful, mean, spacy and emotional. Baby formula is full of sugars.
      Now I am a grown woman who can express how she is feeling and it still took me a week to go “hey, this isnt right”. How is a child supposed to do that?

      How do you account for someone like that? You could just say she’s crazy, but when someone says every time I eat X I have a reaction Y, I tend to believe them. Why would she want to lie about it and deny herself sweets?

      But more importantly, what’s the plus side of feeding kids lots of sweets? Sugar consumption is unbelievably higher than it was 200 years ago – up from around 3 pounds per year per person to over 100 pounds per year per person ( see table). White sugar literally has zero nutrients. You may not want to reduce intake to zero – I haven’t – but I think it’s an excellent idea to keep sugar intake low even in your child has no behavioral problems for general health.

  110. This doesn’t surprise me in the least, but it is so great to see it spelled out by way of an experiment.

  111. The Feingold Program changed our son’s life, off meds too. The website of the organization has been posted but you might be interested in knowing that it also has a great Facebook group

    There’a Yahoo group too

    • It’s also important to know that reading labels will not lead you to a life without artificial dyes & flavorings, bht/tbhq & bht. It may not be on the lable but it can be in the product. That’s why being a member of the Feingold Association is important. The moms there research the products for its members by contacting manufacturers knowing what questions to ask.

  112. Here’s another study along the same lines. In this case it’s an alternative school (a euphemism for the public school where kids with severe behavior issues are sent), so before and after records were kept, and it wasn’t a one day experiment.

  113. Interesting article. I would love to see the videos but I get an error message stating I cannot watch them in my area, perhaps since I’m in the U.S. I was hoping they would be appropriate for my kids to watch to reinforce my ideals re: food. They often come home and complain that all the other kids have dessert or chips or juice… We do make some paleo treats but I don’t want them having them everyday. I will pass this along to my friends!

  114. Hi. I can’t get the videos to work, even when pasting the URL. Can someone provide a better link, please? Thanks in advance.

  115. Karen Lamphier says:

    Those three substances are certainly not good for any of us, young or old. My 3rd grader doesn’t generally get any of them. He becomes unable to follow directions, communicate successfully or read well after eating any wheat or gluten products, bounces off the walls after consuming any cow’s milk dairy products and becomes irritable after eating eggs. So indeed do keep the products mentioned in the article out of kiddos’ diets, but also beware of seemingly wholesome, natural foods like organic whole wheat breads, milk, cheese, eggs…or any other consumed product your kids may eat. Note that often the item that a child craves is that which disagrees with them the most. We went from an ADHD diagnosis to comments from teachers on how well he is doing and how much he has changed in three months with only diet changes. Good luck to all who are struggling with these issues!

  116. Jessica McHenry says:

    I definitely agree with this article but I am curious what the outcome would have been if they would have waited a week and switched the foods for each group. I have five children and have noticed that this kind of food effects each of my children differently – especially my one son in particular. He gets red ears and a red face from red dye- (It’s surprising what it is in) and he get’s incredibly hyper and defiant. Not defiant in a bad way but just hyper and laughing enough that he can’t take anything seriously. I guess with the test- and I admit I only read your part of this article so you may say to me…”go look at” before I ask all these questions lol but I would be curious to see if EVERY child was part of those incidents- did every child have the same problems with these kinds of foods? My kids range from age 10-2 and I really really see a difference with these foods and how they effect each of my kids. I also wonder if it is because we hardly ever feed them to them – they are NEVER really in our house unless it’s been a Christmas time treator birthday- but if we go to other people’s houses they sometimes have it…so does it effect them (or him) like say a glass of wine would effect someone more if they never have it compared to someone who has one everyday? I definitely do agree though and it’s definitely better to stay away from all of that stuff ! =)

  117. Great article! I couldn’t get the videos to work though.

  118. Check out the FAILSAFE diet by Sue Dengate. There is a stack of free info on her website as well –

    Saying that they don’t know what caused the bad behaviour is simply incorrect. Scientists have been studying this since the 1970’s and are very clear that it is artificial colours, flavours and preservatives which cause this behaviour. Some of you may remember the Feingold diet from this time.

    The FAILSAFE diet takes it one step further and eliminates amines and salycilates, which are naturally occurring food chemicals which can also cause reactions in sensitive children.

    We have been FAILSAFE for six years now, and I am absolutely certain that without it my children would have to be medicated. The interesting thing is, that for years I was one of “those” Mothers – bringing my own food to parties, not allowing the children to eat crisps or party snacks, packing their lunch for them every day….

    But now there is this groundswell of interest in “clean” eating from people following Paleo approaches, as well as from parents of children with ADD, ADHD, (Sue Dengate came across this approach because her own daughter had ADHD), Autism and various behavioural issues. I think its a GREAT thing and I was SO happy to see this article which demonstrates very, very clearly the effect that these poisons in our food chain can have on our children.

    Good on you !

  119. I’ve noticed that anything with Red 40 makes my younger cousins go off like a firecracker.

  120. I am a stepmom to a beautiful 8 yr old little girl. We alternate weeks with her mother, 1 week with us and 1 week with her mother, and so on. I limit candy and junk food. I also cook every meal except on Fridays, when we go out to eat for our Family Fun Night. Her mother and I have had some pretty heated arguments because I don’t let my stepdaughter eat whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Her mother feels she can have all the junk food she wants during the day, as long as she eats her “real food” at dinner (“real food” consisting of spaghetti’os or ramen noodles, or eating out alot). But, at the same time, her mother constantly tells me how bad my stepdaughter is when she’s at her mother’s house…doesn’t listen, won’t calm down, mean and aggressive behavior. We don’t experience that type of behavior when she’s with us. Granted, she’s 8, so she’s not always a complete angel. She still tests her boundaries on occasion, but all in all, I feel she acts better with us because of the limit on junk food and candy, and because of the structure of the environment here. I just wish her mother would understand! Thank you for the great article.

  121. It’s not much of a surprise to me. I remember years ago my older cousin telling me that he hated when his daughter ate anything with a certain red colour dye (can’t remember which one) in it because it make her very hyper active. I also know that eating a lot of processed food can worsen ADD or ADHD behaviour. Sadly, so many parents don’t know or don’t care enough to watch what they give their children on a regular basis.

  122. I’m not surprised by the findings, nonetheless, great article! We need to get the “rest of the world” to be aware of this. Many parents just don’t see the long-term dangers of “junk food”.

  123. Jennifer says:

    I Totally agree with the article about eating clean foods and avoiding chemicals, But as a mother who has a child with ADHD (and tries my best to feed my kids REAL food), I feel that telling people ADHD is “caused by artifical dyes” is wrong!!!! The same as telling people that vaccines cause autism! I totally agree that artificial dyes and processed foods can magnify hyperactivity, but to say they cause ADHD is not right. So many parents of children with ADHD struggle daily with themselves, wondering what did they do wrong, what didn’t they do right. I Know that My son’s brain works differently than those without ADHD, it is not a disability or handicap, but it has taught us to help him learn other ways for him to learn and focus. I try to avoid those food listed and many others, but I don’t see much of a difference in his behaviors. I don’t doubt the study but when linking it to ADHD, I disagree.

  124. hello
    Im writing an article about the Effects O f Foods On Kids Behavior.i read ur article it was great.but can u help me to find more information about this subject.thank you

  125. Sheril C says:

    Its now May of 2014 and I came looking for this post to link in an internet discussion. Sadly the videos are not currently working no matter if I reload or try other browsers. So I have called Netflix and asked that they add Food Hospital to their site so that I can tell my fellow Netflix patrons that it is there. That way I can also rewatch the episode in question (series 2 episode 6) and I can see the rest of the show as well. ;)

    Maybe a few more people from here could call in and suggest it as well! :D

  126. This information is worth everyone’s attention. How
    can I find out more?

  127. My husband and I need to be gluten free, so the kids really are too, and it helps. But the artificial coloring. Wow, we know when my daughter has had red especially. She used to break out in a rash, so we knew to avoid it. But now if she has even a small amount the drama and crying is out of control. She bawls “why does it make me feel this way, I don’t like it, I can’t stop.” It is like having a severely hormonal teenage girl instead of a young 8 year old girl. At that point she feels like the whole world is out to destroy her, and she then can’t control her anger and frustration. It is not a pretty sight AT ALL!

  128. Bummer that these videos don’t work…would love to see them…THEY DID work before…is there any way we can get them again??

    People NEED to see this…soo evident…yes!!
    PLEASE….thanks…would love to see them and can’t find on youtube either….??
    Maybe the sugar lobby does not want parents to see this?


  129. Happy Preppers says:

    Nice article! Yes food influences behavior. In fact, the U.S. Army recognized the science of foods during World War II and supplied the troops with foods based on their findings. We’ve listed the morale boosting foods for prepping, because foods that influence positive thoughts give hope and comfort for survival. — Happy Preppers

  130. Something British school restaurants should take a look at perhaps.

  131. Christopher de Vidal says:

    My wife was on the board of the Feingold Association for a few years. (Search the comments for a discussion about them.) Yep, we’re big believers in the food-to-behavior connection. See it first-hand with our three.

  132. Thanks! Any suggestions on what to supplement for infant Tylenol when by baby is sick or has a fever? I know that has red dye in it.

  133. Correlation does not imply causation, even in cases like this.

    It’s entirely possible that the kids’ actions are a result of the social contexts of the food, rather than the physical properties of the food. By which I mean, the kids may act differently because they have been taught (however subconsciously) that you act differently in a place where there are healthy snacks than a place where there is cake.

    Also, I feel that one incident of bad behaviour tends to lead to another, so it makes sense that there would be numerous more incidents, instead of just a few more.

    And of course, there’s the issue that an experiment consisting of one party with one group of kids (however big) does not a study make.

    As an aside, I don’t have any feelings one way or the other about whether food makes kids misbehave. I’ve heard about studies which have disproved the notion, but I haven’t read or followed up on them myself so I don’t put much stock in them. I’m just saying, I don’t put any stock in this, either.

    • Hi there. Since you didn’t give a real email address I know you won’t get my reply, but here goes anyway.

      Of course correlation doesn’t imply causation but I think that the hypotheses that you put forth are much less likely to be the case than the actual junk in the food causing the behavior issues.

      I think of it like this very simple analogy. If you put sludge in a car’s engine, it won’t work well. We put “sludge” in our own “engines” and yet we still expect them to run well. It doesn’t make any sense. We treat our kids like they are garbage disposals and then wonder why they don’t behave well.

      I don’t really understand how or why a child would be taught even subconsciously to behave differently when there is a healthy snack. If anything I think they would behave worse – as in they would complain and refuse to eat the food and be sullen.

      Neither I nor the author of this post said it was a scientific peer-reviewed study. But I think it is a very clear demonstration of what happens when you feed “non food” to kids.

      Thanks and somehow I do hope to see you around again and am open to hearing your reply.

  134. Hi! I am doing a research paper on this topic. I am looking for feedback on more sources and other studies that have been done on this. If anyone can help that would be great!-Hannah