The influence of chocolate on hyperactivity in children
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, approximately 8% of children under the age of 18 in the United States were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at some point. This condition is often treated with a combination of behavioural therapy and medication, but some parents also make changes to their children’s diets to improve their symptoms. These changes, which sometimes involve avoiding chocolate, are probably only effective for a very small percentage of children, according to the centre.
Sugar and hyperactivity
Sweet foods, including chocolate, are often accused of hyperactivity in children. According to an article in “Pediatrics” in February 2012, the facts do not support this belief. There may be a small subgroup of children who become more inattentive after consuming sugar, but this effect seems to be blocked as long as children eat a protein-containing food before or with that food.
Chocolate and hyperactivity
In general, chocolate does not seem to affect hyperactivity in children. A study published in “Behaviour Change” in March 2006 showed that chocolate did not affect the behaviour of preschoolers towards dried fruit, which was used as a control food. A review article published in the “ARYA Journal” in 2005 came to a similar conclusion, indicating that none of the studies examined found a link between chocolate and hyperactivity.
Children who are sensitive to chocolate
A review article published in Clinical Pediatrics in April 2011 indicates that a small subgroup of children with ADHD may be sensitive to artificial food colours and benefit from their removal from their diet. Of this small subset of children, between 65% and 89% of children had reactions when given foods containing at least 100 milligrams of artificial food colours. These children also often tend to be sensitive to some other foods, including chocolate, and may experience fewer symptoms when they avoid these foods.
Other possible food interventions
The Feingold diet, which eliminates additives, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, and even some fruits that contain substances called salicylates, such as apples and grapes, can help improve hyperactivity symptoms in some children. A disposal regime can help to determine which foods to avoid. This involves temporarily eliminating foods that are more likely to cause food sensitivities, such as dairy products, wheat, chocolate, nuts, eggs and citrus fruits, and then reintroducing them one at a time to determine which, if any, lead to increased hyperactivity.