Feingold Diet

The Feingold diet restricts foods with dyes, preservatives, and salicylate compounds. Investigations of this diet, which were reviewed in 1986, generally involved children with ADHD. In most of the studies the children were kept on an additive-free diet and then challenged with a food containing an additive or an additive-free food as placebo. Two studies used additive-containing and additive-free diets. A problem in comparing studies was the variation in type and dose of additives used. There were a total of 13 controlled studies. The summation of the findings found little, if any, effect. At best, there was some suggestion that a small percentage of children (1%) were adversely affected by additives. However, a recent study found that 24 of 34 children referred for hyperactiv-ity (no formal diagnosis was established) who responded in an open clinical trial to an additivefree diet responded adversely to challenges with varying doses of tartrazine compared with placebo, whereas all except 2 of 20 in a comparison group did not. The dependent measures were two behavior rating scales completed by the parents. There appeared to be a dose response that would be contrary to a usual allergic response. This is a much higher rate of response than found in any previous study including those using tartrazine. Further study is required to substantiate these results since they run contrary to most of the previous research. Overall, the evidence to date does not confirm the efficacy of the Feingold diet to warrant its promotion as a treatment for most children with behavioral problems. In addition, if the diet is strictly maintained including foods containing salicylate compounds, the diet may be deficient in vitamin C.

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