Food Additives Drug Children
By eliminating the chemical preservatives and coloring commonly found in processed foods, Dr. Ben Feingold, a San Francisco specialist, has learned that he can cure some kinds of hyperactivity – a nervous condition which makes it difficult to concentrate.
Hyperkinesia – or hyperactivity – Is no small problem. Feingold cites a California study which estimates that in the past 10 to 12 years the incidence of hyperactivity and learning difficulties rose from 2% to an average of 20-25% and in some cases, 40% of the entire school population.
If initial studies prove correct, a synthetics-free diet may, for many children, become an alternative to present methods of drug treatment. Feingold estimates that as many as 80% of the several million children now given drugs like Ritalin (a behavior modifier), amphetamines (commonly known as “speed”), or tranquilizers to control their behavior may be able to stop simply by restricting their diets to natural foods.
Feingold points out that drug treatment is not a cure for hyperactivity, but only serves to mask the problem. And yet, he conservatively estimates that nationally at least two million of the approximately five million children labelled hyperactive are given drugs, but receive no other kind of therapy or treatment. One school official in Yolo County California says that nearly 16% of the children in his school are being given behavior modifying drugs.
In an adult, using Ritalin or amphetamines has the effect of making one more active. But in the case of hyperactive children, Ritalin seems to have the “paradoxical” reverse effect of slowing them down. The scientific explanation of this phenomenon is still conjectural, and some experts are now beginning to question whether the effect is in fact paradoxical.
These specialists point out that hyperactive children normally quiet down when put in stressful situations like visiting a doctor’s office. Amphetamines and Ritalin, they hypothesize, could be putting the children under constant stress. Their ability to concentrate, however, might not have improved at all. And long-term usage of stress-inducing drugs would have disastrous effects on the children’s nervous system and general health.
Most hyperactive children, Feingold says, can probably be taken off drugs fairly quickly once they are on a careful diet. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to keep children away from the ubiquitous food additives. In one case, Feingold says, a child had been treated with Ritalin from the age of three and a half, and several years later he still couldn’t calm down by himself. Two weeks after being kept away from synthetic dyes and flavorings, his behavior became normal.
A few weeks after that, however, the boy was back in a hyperactive state. It turned out that he had eaten a donut with synthetic coloring. He again returned to normal, but then contracted a chest cold and needed medicine. Since there are almost no medicines for children without some form of artificial flavoring or dye, in treating the cold the child once more became uncontrollably hyperactive.
The nation’s top food, drug and chemical corporations have developed synthetic additives into over a $500 million a year business, churning out close to a billion pounds of them in 1970. Additives cut costs for the manufacturers: cakes that once needed eggs and butter need only tiny amounts of synthetic flavoring and coloring and emulsifier. Fruit juices no longer need fruit. And often the price of these “convenience foods” is more even though the cost of producing them is less.
Feingold describes an average child’s breakfast as follows: a cereal “loaded with non-essential flavors and colors added to entice the child. A beverage, either chocolate or other drinks, most of which are rich with many artificial flavors and colors. Pancakes made from a mix, frozen waffles dyed with tartrazine, or frozen french toast.”
Then the conscientious and concerned parent gives the child vitamins, usually chewable, which are also loaded with additives.
Editor’s Note: This article, reprinted from the Syracuse SUN, is taken from an article written by William Dowell and distributed by Pacific News Service. Additional information was added by Liberation News Service.