Do you remember Mother Nature?
That's right - the one you're not supposed to mess with. Well, researchers from the University of Southampton have once again proved the soundness of this ancient admonition.
They tested 3 and 8-year-old children to see how they reacted to the addition of food coloring and sodium benzoate, a food preservative commonly found in soft drinks. The kids were divided into three groups and given identical tasting drinks each day for a six-week period.
Two groups received a drink that was a mixture of food colors and sodium benzoate; a third group received a fruit juice drink. The researchers then measured the childrens' hyperactivity, both directly and through observational assessment.
The children receiving the mixtures of food colors and sodium benzoate exhibited increased hyperactive behavior: increased movement, impulsivity, and inattention. In addition, the older children showed effects of the "hyperactivity drink" in a computer-based assessment of attention.
Professor of Psychology, Jim Stevenson, who led the research, comments: "We now have clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colours and benzoate preservative can adversely influence the behaviour of children. We have now shown that for a large group of children in the general population, consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and benzoate preservative can influence their hyperactive behaviour."
So, there you have it. Proof that "Don't mess with Mother Nature" needs no alterations, revisions, and, most certainly, no additions...