On British TV show “The Food Hospital”, dietician Lucy Jones and physician Dr. Gio Miletto conducted this research study which showed how food affects behavior. Schoolchildren in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party and were split into two groups:
Group 1 was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, hummus, etc. and drank water.
Group 2 received the usual party fare: candy, potato chips, and soda, which contained sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives (food additives in European countries are assigned “E numbers” which are then printed on packaging).
The children’s ability to follow instructions, concentrate, and remember information was then measured as they played party games, and their mean/aggressive/hyper behaviors were carefully recorded. The healthy food group performed 48% better on the game tasks, and had SIGNIFICANTLY less mean/aggressive/hyper behaviors.
At the conclusion of the experiment, several parents were interviewed. The parents were surprised at the big difference in behavior that could be triggered by something as simple as “party food”. Unfortunately many children consume this type of food on a daily basis from their school cafeteria, unwittingly contributing to a worsening of their ADHD and aggressive behaviors. Perhaps we could all learn from this creative experiment and strive to feed our children nutrient-dense foods to ensure their success in and out of the classroom.
The Food Hospital. BBC (2011). 4.