Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Children Are the Most Vulnerable to the Chemicals in Processed Food

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Children Are the Most Vulnerable to the Chemicals in Processed Food

Article excerpt


Arrested development

Children are particularly vulnerable to harm from additives. Because their bodies are going through a series of changes, additives can have an irreversible impact on their development.

Their organs and metabolic systems are immature at birth and a child's central nervous system is not fully developed until the age of seven.

The liver and kidneys which neutralise toxins are not fully developed until around the age of four.

It is generally accepted that any adverse health effect from additives is more harmful to children than adults and more likely to have an impact on their nervous, reproductive and immune systems.

Increasingly additives are being pinpointed as a cause or at least contributor to bad behaviour in children, ranging from short attention span to Attention Deficit Disorder.

Common additives in children's food, especially azo dyes (derived from coal tar) have been linked to allergies and hyperactivity in children. Other adverse reactions to colourings include severe migraine, asthma, eczema, hives, nausea and vomiting.

Beware hyperactivity

Sally Bunday of the Hyperactive Children's Support Group. "We know from the World Health Organisation that younger children are even more vulnerable to the effects of chemicals, partly because of the factor of bodyweight.

"But what makes one child more sensitive than another is an interesting area. It's not the case that specific additives provoke specific reactions in susceptible children."

The trouble is that so many of the foods which contain colourings are geared to children, explains Bunday. She says: "There are cheap sweets in any corner shop which can make your tongue red. We know from the research that you don't have to be diagnosed hyperactive or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to have a reaction "They can still have a reaction to something consumed - additives, colourings, flavour enhancers - that can cause disruptive behaviour or breathing trouble."

Nutritionist Annie Seeley says: "Some parents report problems with foods that have high sugar levels. If you combine this with, say, a coloured fizzy drink - which contains additives - you can end up with a child who is literally bouncing off the walls. …

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