Skip to main content
Report this ad

The impact snacks have on your kids may surprise you

The combination of preservatives along with artificial food dye can cause hyperactivity.
The combination of preservatives along with artificial food dye can cause hyperactivity.

A bag of cheese puffs here, a fruit roll up there. What’s the harm in snacking a little every day?

It all adds up. What may seem like occasional snacking to ward off hunger between meals has grown over the years and could be responsible for numerous problems for kids. Recent studies in the journal Health Affairs show that snacks account for nearly one third of all daily calories consumed by children. This has a powerful impact on a child’s daily nutrition.

Between the high levels of sugar, chemical preservatives and artificial food dye, new studies are showing many popular snacks are having detrimental effects on our children’s behavior and may contribute to the rise in obesity. Mounting evidence points to the potential for long-term health problems as well.

Food induced ADD: A dangerous rainbow

While designed to take on the hue of fruit, there is nothing natural about the food coloring used in many snacks.

Studies are now showing a link between food dyes and behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, learning difficulties and ADD/ADHD in many children. In addition to contributing to visual and learning disorders, artificial food dyes have also been found to cause allergic reactions, nerve damage and uncontrolled cell mutation; a precursor to cancer.

Most food dyes are derived from coal tar and can contain trace amounts of lead and arsenic. According to the FDA, Americans consume five times as much food dye as they did 30 years ago.

A carefully designed study published in The Lancet concluded that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate, found in many soft drinks and juices, do cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible. The study also found that the some food dyes do as much damage to children’s brains as the lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ.

Ruled a public safety hazard, artificial food dyes are now being phased out and banned in Europe and in Canada. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA to ban the use of these dyes.

The truth about sugar is not so sweet

Sugar has a profound influence on your brain function, and psychological function. Children can only break down 5 grams of sugar per meal. Even snacks that may appear as healthy may be loaded with extra sugar. For example, a pint of strawberry milk found in school cafeterias contains 31 grams of high fructose corn syrup and Red #40.

One study that measured the visible effects of sugar consumption gave kids the amount of sugar equal to one soda. As a result, their test scores went down. In fact, one hour after consuming the sugar, they made twice as many mistakes. The sugar-loaded students also showed more “inappropriate behavior” during free play.

Obesity on the rise

Researchers report a rise in snacking over the same time period that obesity rates have increased. More than 30% of children age 10 to 17 are now overweight or obese. These kids are at much greater risk for conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and infertility.


Looking for a way to improve behavior?

Check your snack drawer.

Studies show that the combination of sodium benzoate along with food colorings can cause hyperactivity in children.  As much as possible, try to buy foods with natural food coloring. You may find dyes where you least expect them, so always check the labels. They are commonly found in candy, soft drinks, baked goods and other processed foods.

Food Dyes to Avoid:

Blue #1 and Blue #2

Citrus Red #1 and Citrus Red #2

Green #3

Red #3

Red #40

Yellow #5 and Yellow #6




Report this ad