Myth: Sugar and Food Additives Cause ADHD

Health Writer

The popularity of diet to correct behavioral problems began with the Feingold Diet. This diet eliminated many food products, including food additives. According to proponents of this approach, this diet help improve concentration, impulsiveness and other ADHD symptoms.

In 1982 the National Institutes of Health held a scientific consensus conference to discuss diet and behavior. They found that elimination diets and diet restrictions helped approximately 5% of children. Of these children, the majority were young children with known food allergies.

Another study provided children with sugar one day and a sugar substitute the next day. Parents, children and staff did not know whether the children were receiving sugar or the sugar substitute. Half of the parents were told their children received sugar and half were told they were given a sugar substitute. On any given day of the study, parents who were told their children received sugar rated them as more hyperactive and were more critical of their behavior.

Throughout the years, no major study has been able to demonstrate the correlation between the consumption of sugar or food additives and ADHD.

Suggested Reading:

The Causes of ADHD

Other Treatments for ADHD


Food Additives and Sugar, Learning Disabilities Online

What Causes ADHD?, Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Myths and Facts,