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Sodium benzoate boosts ADHD risk - study

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Aug 12, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- If your children act like they suffer attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may want to check and see if they eat too much of processed foods and beverages, which are likely preserved with sodium benzoate.  A new study in Journal of Attention Disorders found eating such foods boosts the risk of ADHD.

Food additives like sodium benzoate have been associated with ADHD in prior research and children eating lots of food additives simply can't focus as they are supposed to.  Sodium benzoate is a preservative indicated to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in foods abd beverages which would otherwise spoil the foods more easily leading to a short shelf-life.

The study led by B.L. Beezhold and colleagues showed college students who had high intakes of sodium benzoate rich beverages were more likely to suffer ADHD, compared to those who had low intakes.

A total of 475 students in a fall 2010 class enrolled in the study were asked to provide information on consumption of sodium benzoate-rich beverages and they were assessed for ADHD-related symptoms.

The researchers found "Sodium benzoate-rich beverage intake was significantly associated with ADHD-related symptoms, and significance was retained after controlling for covariates."

Specifically, 67 students scoring equal to or greater than 4 on the screener (scores that may be consistent with ADHD) reported higher intakes, which was 35 servings per month compared to 17 servings per month among other students. 

The researchers concluded "A high intake of sodium benzoate-rich beverages may contribute to ADHD-related symptoms in college students and warrants further investigation."

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