The rules for the Snow family were simple. If Emily Snow's first-grade student, Evan, had managed to pass the evening without kicking, biting or hitting, she could have found something she loved: three pieces of chewing red candy.
But Evan rarely received his prize.
“He was always moving from morning till night,” says Snow, from Roy, Utah. "We always had egg shells, not knowing when a powerful explosion would come."
Evan was taking two psychiatric drugs because of his anger, Snow said. She was receiving weekly treatment from kindergarten.
It was October 2020, when Evan was in the second grade, when a relative suggested that the Snows cut the artificial food dye - which was at Evan's prize for the night, as well as the light fruit, sheets and drinks he ate.
The Snow family removed the artificial food dye in October 2020 and saw an amazing improvement in their son, Evan, right.
The Snow family removed the artificial food dye in October 2020 and saw an amazing improvement in their son, Evan, right. Amy Allred / Allred Photography
Dietary changes have made thousands of dollars in neuropsychological tests, appointments of psychiatrists and treatments unable to do, Snow said. Within four weeks, Evan was a calm, happy child.
"We had a little boy instead of the Incredible Hulk," he said.
The Snows are part of a growing number of families, scientists, pediatricians and legislators who believe there is a strong link between dietary dye and child behavior - something the Food and Drug Administration does not fully agree with.
In 2011, the FDA reviewed the possible link between dietary dye and overwork and determined that no causal relationships could be established for children in the general public who had not yet been diagnosed with behavioral problems. The agency reviewed the matter in 2019, and retained its status.
But a California state senator says a recent study confirms that the colors of processed foods - which appear on nutritional labels like Red 40, Yellow 5 and Blue 1, among other words - negatively affect many children, and parents have a right to be informed.
Regional Manager Bob Wieckowski, of the Democratic Alliance, is a draft law author who wants warning labels to be included in any food containing such dyes sold in the state of California.
He hopes his bill will pass sometime by 2022, which will lead to the required packaging labels in California from January 2023.
“Why don't you warn people that this might have a negative impact on their children?” he stated, pointing out that his bill is not a ban on food dyes, only the requirement to disclose more information about them. "What kind of legislature would you 'keep secret'?"
What science means
Although synthetic dyes are commonly found in sweets, cereals and other foods in the U.S., they are very rare in Europe.
This is because artificial dyes are all eliminated from the diet where after a 2007 study in the United Kingdom found a link between color combinations of processed foods and allergies in children, even those who did not pay attention to hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Dyes are not banned throughout Europe. But according to findings in a 2007 study, the European Union required products containing certain dyes to have a warning label that could adversely affect children's performance and attention span.
Many manufacturers have chosen to remove artificial dyes from their European market instead of having their products labeled with caution. Like other methods, they add color to their diet with natural dyes, such as blackcurrant or spirulina concentrate.
The Wieckowski Bill aims to produce similar results, or at least, to educate parents.
To support his position, Wieckowski presented evidence of what he said was the most comprehensive report on the link between dye and child behavior, compiled by his provincial Office for Environmental Health Assessment.
A peer-reviewed report, released in April, summarizes the findings of human and animal studies on the health effects of dietary dyes from the 1970s to the present.
The researchers found that 64 percent of the 27 clinical trials analyzed showed an association between dietary color and behavioral problems in children. Recent research is more likely to show correlation, with 5 out of 6 studies conducted after 1990 reporting significant mathematical results.
The review comes as the diagnosis of ADHD has risen sharply: Percentage of U.S. children and youth diagnosed with ADHD increased from an average of 6.1 percent in 1997 to 10.2 percent in 2016.
But like those in the U.S. study, researchers in California concluded that some children showed sensitivity to dietary dyes whether they had a diagnosis of ADHD or not.
"Evidence supports the link between exposure to food dye and the negative effects of behavior on children, both with or without existing behavioral problems."
"Evidence supports the link between exposure to food dye and adverse effects on children, both with and without behavioral problems," the report reads.
In a statement released by NBC News, the FDA acknowledged that “some published information suggests that in some children with ADHD and other behavioral disorders, their condition may be exacerbated by a number of food allergies, including, but not limited to food coloring, due to intolerance. or extraordinary sensitivity. ”