Don't Fear the Easter Bunny! How to Avoid Harmful Easter Candy
A bunny with temper tantrums?
An irritable, over-active rabbit who could not concentrate long enough to sort Easter baskets? “That’s what the Easter Bunny would be like if he ate the brightly colored candies he brings children every spring,” said Jane Hersey, National Director of the Feingold Association (www.feingold.org), a charity that helps children with learning and behavior problems. “Most parents would be shocked to learn that these candies’ vibrant colors come from petroleum-based dyes linked with hyperactivity, inattention, and other problems” said Hersey, whose own daughter's behavior was helped by eliminating these additives. In fact, many synthetic food colorings are produced in Chinese petrochemical refineries, according to Hersey. “European families have an advantage over American ones in choosing healthier candy, because most synthetically colored foods sold in the European Union must now carry a label warning that these dyes ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children,'” she said.
While a recent Food and Drug Administration panel narrowly rejected requiring similar warning labels on dyed foods sold in the United States, it concluded that these dyes can exacerbate the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavior problems in susceptible children. These actions were prompted by mounting scientific evidence, including a meta-analysis of fifteen studies, in which researchers from Columbia University and Harvard Medical School concluded that synthetic food dyes are linked with hyperactivity. A highly regarded study in a British medical journal, The Lancet, also found that synthetic food dyes can trigger hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity in all children, not just those with ADHD. This study credited Dr. Ben Feingold, who developed the low-additive Feingold Diet, with discovering the link between these additives and hyperactivity.
Another major concern with synthetic food dyes is cancer. According to Hersey, Red #3 has been shown to cause cancer and three other dyes (Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6) are contaminated with low levels of known cancer-causing compounds, such as benzidine.
Be sure to feed your children a nourishing meal before they dig into their Easter treats, and consider planning an Easter egg hunt, so that they can get some exercise while having fun with the family.
“If you follow these suggestions, your kids will have a healthier Easter, and you will never have to fear the Easter Bunny again!” said Hersey.
The Feingold Association
The nonprofit Feingold Association (www.feingold.org / 800-321-3287) helps families use the Feingold Diet, which eliminates synthetic food dyes, artificial flavorings, and certain preservatives. The charity conducts in-depth research with food companies and provides members with information about which foods are free of harmful additives. Its advisory board and board of directors include medical professionals from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Rochester, Stony Brook University, Baltimore's Sinai Hospital, and other institutions.