Garden City Park, NY: Child learning and behavioral disorders are on the rise in the United States—but not in the United Kingdom. At least that is what is being reported in a new article out this week by Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute founder, and former FDA whistle-blower Dr. Renee Dufault (author of Square One's Unsafe at Any Meal: What the FDA Does Not Want You to Know About the Foods You Eat).
The article, “Food labeling requirements may explain lower autism and ADHD prevalence in the United Kingdom,” appears in this month’s issue of the peer-reviewed Integrative Food, Nutrition and Metabolism Journal (now available).
According to Dr. Dufault, the prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD in the United Kingdom is declining with only 1.5% of children between the ages of five and sixteen impacted by this diagnosis. Meanwhile, in the US the number of children struggling with ADHD is increasing with each passing year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—with the prevalence rate nearly seven times that of the UK. (Autism prevalence in the US, by comparison, is nearly three times that of the UK.)
ADHD and autism are both considered learning disorders and children with these diagnoses are often provided with special education services in the US public schools, when learning is impacted and academic achievement goals are not met. Diet-related factors like the consumption of synthetic food dyes and high fructose corn syrup (HCFS), together with the lack of warning labels on foods containing such ingredients, are being linked to the learning disparities between the US and the UK.
Warning labels are required on the packaging of foods in the UK that contain ingredients known to cause inattention and hyperactivity—and this is pointed out by Dufault in her new study, which suggests how warning labels likely help parents make healthier food choices for their families. These healthier food choices seem to have led to improvements in child nutrition and behavior, allowing for the higher academic achievement scores observed in the UK.
Improvements in nutrition have long been linked to advancements in child neurodevelopment and learning. According to Dr. Dufault, other scientists have found that healthy diet early in a child’s life is a predictor for later academic achievement. That is why many countries initiate programs to ensure that pregnant women and their children have adequate nutrition and food. In the US, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is available to women of lesser means. Consequently, the states with the highest WIC participation also have the lowest autism rates in the US.
In addition to the present lack of warning labels on unhealthy foods, consumption of high fructose corn syrup may now be linked to the lower student academic achievement scores in the US. In a previous study led by Dr. Juliana F.W. Cohen et al. at Harvard University, researchers found that fructose consumption specifically from sugar-sweetened beverages during pregnancy and early childhood years was responsible for lower child cognition scores. Per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup in the US is 41.4 pounds per person, but that same consumption level is negligible in the UK because sale of HFCS products is restricted by trade barriers.
Dr. Dufault's new article builds on long-acknowledged science from many different fields, and in many ways picks up from earlier work that she and her team conducted and saw written about back in 2009. (To access an article on this same work published in 2010 and written by Dufault et al., feel free to click here.) In the conclusion of her article out this week, Dr. Dufault writes "warning label requirements for foods with ingredients found to lower cognition or increase hyperactivity and inattention in children may serve to reduce autism and ADHD prevalence in the US as parents will be able to make healthier food choices for their children."
You can download Dr. Dufault's full article in Integrative Food, Nutrition and Metabolism Journal at the following link:
To get a look at the 2009 study of the work conducted by Dr. Dufault and her interdisciplinary team, you can go to the following link as well:
So when it comes to the UK versus the US in the areas of scholastic achievement and lowered autism / ADHD rates, it seems that they have brought forth a new generation of Harry Potters. If the US truly wants to make America great again, it seems clear that the only way to do it will be to step up its food labeling guidelines—and to reduce consumption of processed foods.
Dr. Renee Joy Dufault is based in Hawaii, where she has just begun a new year in her continued role as a high school Special Education teacher. To learn more about Dr. Dufault's research and publications, please feel free to visit the Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute website here or you can go to www.foodingredient.info.
Unsafe at Any Meal (Square One, $16.95 USD / ISBN: 978-0-7570-0436-0) is now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever else books are sold.