Additives in Food Are the Primary Cause of ADHD

By Betty Hooper

For over 25 years I have collected a massive amount of evidence relating to the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD, (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).   The label ADHD, which is a fancy term for hyperactivity, was assigned by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1980’s, who following a show of  hands, created this new “disease,” which they stated was treatable, but not curable and attributable to brain dysfunction.

I have found that it due to food additives and here is my reasoning.  I worked as a teacher with special needs children and spoken with retired teachers, all of whom agree that we did not experience the behavior problems that parents and teachers experience today and pertinently, since the end of World War II, there has been a vast increase in the number of additives in our food and an increase in the number of fast food outlets.

According to a Ministry of Health (MOH) publication, entitled “2001 New Zealand Guidelines for the Assessment and Treatment of ADHD” this “disease” is treatable, not curable and is one of the most widely and well-researched mental health disorders in childhood.  Pharmacotherapy is superior to alternative treatments and as a general rule, stimulant drugs are the first line of defense, the drugs being Ritalin or Rubifen.  The guidelines state that “over 70/80% of children exhibit improvement in their symptoms of ADHD while on stimulant medication.”

In 1991 Dr Diane McGuinness, the Associate Professor of Psychology of the University of Florida expressed her concern regarding the amount of Ritalin being given to children, numbering approximately one million.  At the same time her concern was that a drug acts on the brain should be prescribed only in circumstances of actual or suspected brain damage and o safeguard health, should only be used as a last resort.

The guidelines state many of the side effects associated with stimulant use appear to be relatively mild and of short duration.  The data available suggests medication has no long term or severe side effects.

According to the Physicians Desk Reference there are approximately 34 adverse side effects associated with normal use and 20 related to overdosing.

Some of the side effects are: drowsiness, hypoglycemia, weight loss, worsening of ADHD, nausea, fever, palpitations, arrhythmia, changes in blood pressure.  Symptoms associated with over dosing include vomiting, convulsions, sweating and cardiac arrhythmias.

Death From Ritalin

There have been reports of over 200 deaths from Ritalin in the USA and deaths in the UK.  In Michigan, the chief Pathologists reporting upon the autopsy of a teenager said “Matthew’s heart showed clear signs of small vessel damage, the type caused by drugs like amphetamines.  He said a full-grown man’s heart weighs 402 grams.  Matthew’s weighed 350 grams.

There are three subtypes of ADHD – ADHD predominantly inattentive, ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and ADHD combined type.  Together these sub-types represent one of the most common childhood psychiatric disorders.  In New Zealand it is the most common diagnosis given to children and adolescents by the Mental Health Services.  It is likely to involve a variety of genetic and neurological factors.  Hereditary factors are thought to contribute most, accounting for 50% of the variance. Social factors alone are not considered an etiological cause but may exacerbate preexisting symptoms and genetic or neurological vulnerability.

The section regarding the under-five year olds mentions that symptoms such as inattention overactive behavior, poor comprehension, sleep problems amongst other difficulties.  It states that methylphenidate has short term benefit and the risk of adverse side effects.

The Physicians Desk Reference states “Ritalin should not be used in children under the age of six, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established.

In mid-2006, Professor John Werry, the New Zealand ADHD expert, was reported by the Sunday Star Times as saying that he had 20 patients under the age of six, the youngest being about two.  This was in reply to a warning by the US FDA regarding the side effects of Ritalin, plus the concern of the Australasian Health Secretary.  However, Professor Werry considered the concern was “ a ridiculous and hysterical reaction.” But was it?

The middle school years – ages 6 to 14 –symptoms appear to be added to the under-fives years and include loud and noisy behavior.  The children tend to interrupt or dominate games, have poor social skills, have difficulty reading and writing.

All the above are related to hyperactivity plus (no mention bullying verbal and physical abuse towards other pupils, parents and teachers. The knowledge that Ritalin can be sold at the school gate. The New Zealand Police call Ritalin “Kiddy speed.”

Fifty percent of adults will still suffer according to the guidelines.  The symptoms will include antisocial behavior, depression, anxiety, under-achievement and drug abuse.

The hyperactive child of four decades ago is today’s hyperactive adult with offspring that are hyperactive.  Is it any wonder then that we have so many people who “lose it” and too many children on Ritalin.

Because Ritalin is highly addictive, no child in the US who has been on this drug, can ever enter the Military.

In 2004, the military authorities turned down over 3,500 applications for that reason.  We do not have that here in New Zealand.  Considering Ritalin is a class II drug on a par with cocaine and “P”, should it be given to 2 year olds?

If ADHD is regarded as a mental disorder, I wonder why there is no mention of a blood test, brain scan or a biopsy.  It would appear to be a judgment based upon an interview.

The clinical approach is derived from the recommendation described by Berkley in his 1997 textbook on ADHD entitled “ADHD Practice Parameters” of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.”  It mentions that “Dietary treatment is popular among many parents and some clinicians, but clinical trials have not produced unequivocal evidence that it is effective.   This is not true though!  There have been many trials which have shown that altering the diet can help a child greatly.  For example, the late Dr Ben Feingold, a Director of Paediatrics of the Kauser Medical Centre in San Francisco, convincingly demonstrated that artificial coloring and flavouring, preservatives and the naturally occurring salycilates in fruit and vegetables, could cause hyperactivity.  The Feingold diet is now used successfully worldwide.  I have seen it used here in New Zealand and the changes in children’s health has been spectacular.

Likewise, Dr Doris Rapp MD, who is the medical specialist and clinical Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the State University of Buffalo, has operated a very successful clinic and published many books that detail how changing a child’s diet can have huge beneficial effects.

Dr Alexander Schauss, a criminologist who specializes in diet and delinquency. Dr Stepohen Schoenthaler another criminologist specializing in antisocial behavior.

The Shipley(Yorks) Project Peter Bennett, a Supt of Police in Shipley took early retirement to study at Oxford University and together with Gail Bradley, an ex-prison governor,  and with the help of the medical teams at the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, successfully proved a relationship with diet and behavior regarding violent offending.

Support groups are few and far between and appear to act independently of one another.  In my opinion, a national association is required to enable us to pool our knowledge.

The Guidelines Evidence Summary states that evidence clearly and consistently shows that stimulant medication is the single most useful intervention for ADHD.

Far fewer studies have been done with the “non-hyperactive” children with ADHD

Most reviews suggest methylphemenidate and dexamphetamine first line of defense.

Studies evaluating adverse side effects of drug therapy  suggest most associated side effects are relatively small and of short duration and respond to dosing or timing adjustments..

Regarding adverse side effect, my research tells about deaths, strokes, worsening of hyperactivity and addictiveness.  While according to Professor Werry there are about 3,500 children being medicated with Ritalin to treat ADHD, I find it hard to believe that we have that number of children popping up like mushrooms with a “brain dysfunction.”   Why doesn’t he look at the cause?

The 2001 Guidelines are unattainable and there has been no update since 2001.

In 1995 an investigative journalist, John Merrow, uncovered evidence that suggest the then cureent epidemic of ADHD was largely manmade and that hundreds of children were being misdiagnosed and unnecessarily medicated because by that time in 1991, the number of children had risen from just under one million to four and a half million.  Ciga Geigy, the manufacturer of Ritalin, attributed the rise to “heightened public awareness” but Merrow uncovered evidence suggesting that Ciba Geigy created much of the awareness by giving money to ADHD support groups that recommended Ritalin.  The information was broadcast across the US vai TV and radio on the 20th of October 1995.  The outcome was class action law suits commencing.  The law firm of Water and Kraus representing the complainants.  All the information is obtainable on the website:  In 1998 at a conference of the world;s leading ADHD experts, it was decided that ADHD was “not a brain dysfunction.”  Previously, in 1995, the World Health Organization had warned that Ritalin use had reached dangerous proportions.  Dr Tucci of the Australasian  Child Foundation, voiced his concern about Ritalin, reporting that some children had died because of it and it had many detrimental side effects.  Dr Edward Hamlyn, the founding member of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK, made similar statements.   In 2007, Judge Paul Hanlon was quoted in the Australian Daily Telegraph as slamming the doctors for creating a generation of Ritalin kids now committing violent crimes and coming before the court.  He said ADHD was the most over-diagnosed condition in the community with naughty kids being put on the drug like the powerful stimulant Ritalin.  I  2006 there were more than 264,000 prescriptions for Ritalin issued in Australia and Judge Hanlon said he was worried because the effect on the mental health of children who were given powerful drugs, was unknown.  A staggering 32,000 children in NSW Australia are taking drugs for ADHD.  In 2006, 14 students from a school in Brisbane were hospitalized overnight for overdosing on Ritalin.  Australials rates are among the highest in the world, together with NZ and the USA.  Unfortunately, Judge Hanlon has now been gagged for his remarks by the state’s Judicial Commission.

In May 2008, Professor Andrew Kemp, the child allergy specialist of the Westmead Children’s Hospital,Sydney said there is good scientific evidence that preservatives and colourings increase hyperactive behavior and removing these from the diet should be considered the first line of treatment to reduce hyperactivity.  He also said that a recent trial with 300 British children without ADHD showed that eating a mixture of food additives equivalent to that found in 2 56 gram bags of sweets, significantly increased hyperactivity.

Most medics would have you believe that ADHD is a world-wide problem, Not so. To prove this, I traveled to Cuba in late-2005.  Cuba has a population of about 12 million and leads the world in organic farming.  Also, takeaway outlets are rare.  There was an excellent medical system. To help me with my research it was important for me to board with an ordinary family.  I was more than lucky to find one who made it possible for me to meet with some paediatricians at the university plus a session with the Professor of Nutrition who told me ADHD is virtually unknown in Cuba.  They knew about Ritalin, but did not use it as he said, they had no use for it.

The schools I visited were very helpful.  I did not see any child playing up, nor did I see obese ones and there were no special needs classes either.  Principals were horrified when I told them the problems we had in New Zealand, considering our small population.  I asked if they had problems with bullying, abuse directed towards the pupils and staff and suicide, a fascination with fire, truancy, vandalism or depression.   The answer was a definitive no.  All school children receive a freshly-cooked organic midday meal, plus milk and vitamin tablets if required.  That’s some of the good things about Cuba, although they were wage poor.  There were a lot of things I found out about Cuba when I returned on 2007 –but that’s another story.

If Cuba with its larger population has virtually unknown ADHD problem why with our small population have we so many children being pushed up to the psychiatrists’ road?  It must be time for the medical association to “look beyond the square” and start by experimenting with changes to ch


One response to “Additives in Food Are the Primary Cause of ADHD

  1. Need to contact you re Phillip Day – fantastic news!

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