Ask the Experts

Is the Feingold Diet an ADHD Cure?

“Why don’t we hear more about the Feingold Diet? All three of my kids are on it, and it seems to have cured their ADHD.”

In his 1974 book Why Your Child Is Hyperactive, Benjamin Feingold, M.D., argued that ADHD can be caused by food additives or preservatives and that symptoms go away once a child changes his diet. But numerous studies conducted since the book’s publication have failed to support this controversial theory, for either children or adults.

The studies1 2 did suggest, however, that about one percent of people with ADHD can become “hyper” for about an hour after consuming certain food dyes, especially red dye. If someone with ADHD is known to have this sensitivity, it certainly makes sense to avoid this dye.

If you really believe that the diet is helping your children, continue to use it. But if there’s any uncertainty, I urge you to consider proven treatments.

1 Mccann, Donna, et al. “Food Additives and Hyperactive Behaviour in 3-Year-Old and 8/9-Year-Old Children in the Community: A Randomised, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” The Lancet, vol. 370, no. 9598, 2007, pp. 1560–1567., doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(07)61306-3.
2 Rowe, Katherine S., and Kenneth J. Rowe. “Synthetic Food Coloring and Behavior: A Dose Response Effect in a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Repeated-Measures Study.” The Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 125, no. 5, 1994, pp. 691-98.

Updated on October 9, 2017

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