Researchers Link Food Labels to Lower ADHD/ Autism Rates, Higher Academic Achievement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 5, 2018
Naalehu, HI - Child disorders with learning and behavior are on the rise in the United States (U.S.) but not in the United Kingdom (U.K.). For example, the prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD in the U.K. is declining with only 1.5% of children between the ages of five and sixteen impacted by this diagnosis. Meanwhile in the U.S., the number of children struggling with ADHD is increasing with each passing year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the prevalence rate nearly seven times that of the U.K. Autism prevalence in the U.S. is nearly three times that of the U.K.
ADHD and autism are both considered learning disorders and children with these diagnoses are often provided with special education services in the U.S. public schools when learning is impacted and academic achievement goals are not met. Diet-related factors like the consumption of synthetic food colors and high fructose corn syrup and the lack of warning labels containing such ingredients are being linked to the learning disparities between the U.S. and the U.K.
Warning labels are required on the packaging of foods in the U.K. that contain ingredients known to cause inattention and hyperactivity. In a new study, Dr. Renee Joy Dufault of the Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute, suggests the warning labels likely help parents make healthier food choices for their families. These healthier food choices lead to improvements in child nutrition and behavior allowing for the higher academic achievement scores observed in the U.K.
Improvements in nutrition have long been linked to advancements in child neurodevelopment and learning. According to Dr. Dufault, other scientists have found healthy diet early in a child's life is a predictor for later academic achievement. That is why many countries initiate programs to ensure pregnant women and their children have adequate nutrition and food. In the U.S., the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is available to women of lesser means. The states with the highest WIC participation have the lowest autism rates in the U.S.
In addition to the lack of warning labels on unhealthy foods, consumption of high fructose corn syrup may be linked to lower academic achievement scores in the U.S. In a previous study led by Dr. Cohen at Harvard University, researchers found that fructose consumption specifically from sugar sweetened beverages during pregnancy and childhood was responsible for lower child cognition scores.
The article builds on long-acknowledged science from different fields. In its conclusion, Dr. Dufault writes, "warning label requirements for foods with ingredients found to lower cognition or increase hyperactivity and inattention in children may serve to reduce autism and ADHD prevalence in the U.S. as parents will be able to make healthier food choices for their children."
The non-profit Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute works locally and globally at the intersection of food policy, education, and community practice to promote improvements in child health and learning. Access the FIHRI website here -> www.foodingredient.info