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June 1981

Effects of Artificial Food Colorings in Children With Hyperactive Symptoms: A Critical Review and Results of a Controlled Study

Author Affiliations

From Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center, Glen Oaks, NY (Dr Mattes); and the Department of Psychology, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York (Dr Gittelman). Dr Mattes is now with the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bronx, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(6):714-718. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780310114012

• The "Feingold diet," which eliminates artificial food colorings, has been claimed to be beneficial to hyperactive children. Previous studies have yielded equivocal results. We sought to maximize the likelihood of demonstrating behavioral effects of artificial food colorings by (1) studying only children who were already on the Feingold diet and who were reported by their parents to respond markedly to artificial food colorings, (2) attempting to exclude placebo responders, and (3) administering high dosages of coloring. The design was a double-blind crossover with order randomized; 11 children maintained on the Feingold diet were challenged with food coloring and placebo (one each week). Evaluations by parents, teachers, and psychiatrists and psychological testing yielded no evidence of a food coloring effect.