HOUSE CALLS by Dr. Gerald Deas
How do your children behave at home, at play, and at school? Does their behavior leave a lot to be desired? Research has shown that food additives such as sugar, food coloring, and other chemicals may cause some children to experience poor health, poor learning, and unacceptable behavior. Recently, I was speaking with an elementary school teacher about the snacks and drinks that children bring to school in their lunch bags. She said that some children who bring junk foods to school have difficulty learning and usually exhibit behavior problems.
Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a noted allergist, believed that sugar and other food additives can cause behavioral and other learning problems in children. A recent report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest identified 17 studies suggesting that diet might adversely affect the behavior of at least some children. Most of the studies focused on artificial colors in foods consumed by children. These behavioral problems cited can include an inability to concentrate and restlessness, which could contribute to difficulty with schoolwork.
In the African American, Latino and low-income white communities, many children are drinking intensely concentrated, sweetened, colored drinks and eating ice pops with the same ingredients. The ingredients listed on the labels of these drinks–artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, BHA, BHT, and TBHQ, could spell danger to those children who might be sensitive to these substances. Another ingredient, sulfite, has also been found to cause asthma attacks in susceptible individuals. Reports indicate that African American children experience a greater frequency of asthma attacks than any other children.
In addition, excessive sugar intake contributes to obesity, tooth decay, and even diabetes in those genetically at risk for the disease. High sugar diets may also inhibit the eating of more nutritious foods.
If you want your children to function at their full capacity in school, I suggest that you read the list of ingredients on snack foods and beverages. That small but beautiful computer in the head, known as the brain, depends on good nutrition. There is a saying, “if you put junk in the computer, you’ll get junk out.”
I have created a poster entitled, “Drinks that Drain the Brain.” It reads:
“If you drink red, you may lose your head, if you drink green, it may make you scream, if you drink blue, you may feel blue, if you drink yellow, it may make you too mellow.”
In our educational systems, when children misbehave or do poorly in their studies, they are placed in special education classes and sometime administered drugs to keep them calm and quiet. If your child has difficulty in school, you may be able to do something about it by paying more attention to what he or she is eating and drinking. After producing such beautiful children, think about keeping them beautiful by avoiding chemical additives.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest may be contacted via the Internet at cspinet.org or by writing them at Suite 300, 1875 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20009.
For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals, visit DrDeas.com/.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 21 print edition.