Health Buzz: Should Artificially Colored Foods Carry Warnings About Hyperactivity?

Surviving ADHD at work and school; can your relationship survive ADHD?

Video: ADHD

Video: ADHD

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FDA to Assess Link Between Artifical Food Dye and Hyperactivity

A federal advisory committee will meet today to assess whether artificially-colored foods—like Jell-O and Lucky Charms cereal—should carry warnings that the bright dyes worsen hyperactivity in some children. Artificial food dyes, made from petroleum, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enhance the color of processed foods. The FDA previously said that there was no definitive link between the colorings and behavior or health problems, but recent studies suggest the dyes could trigger hyperactivity in kids. When the agency kicks off its two-day meeting today, a panel of experts will review the evidence and recommend potential policy changes, such as including warning labels on products. In a background report prepared for the meeting, the FDA wrote that while most children might not be affected by artificial dyes, the colors could exacerbate the conditions of those with behavioral disorders. However, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food producers and packagers, insists the dyes are safe: "All of the major safety bodies globally have reviewed the available science and have determined that there is no demonstrable link between artificial colors and hyperactivity among children," the group said in a statement.

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  • Surviving ADHD at Work and School

    School means seven classes with seven different teachers. Work means all day, five days a week, in a pressure-filled, deadline-oriented office. In either setting, there are assignments to juggle, time to manage, and priorities to organize. For someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, success in school or the workplace is a moving and elusive target.

    "People with ADHD can't make it out the door on time. They have trouble finishing projects, problems with paperwork, and usually, a disaster of an office," psychotherapist Terry Matlen, author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD, told U.S. News. "When you take the symptoms of ADHD and put them into a work or school setting, there's more than likely going to be a struggle."

    About 4 percent of adults and children are believed to have ADHD. They are forgetful and hyperactive, have trouble staying focused and paying attention, and understand or follow instructions with difficulty—all symptoms that can wreak havoc on educational and professional success. Up to a third of students with ADHD drop out of high school, and they're also less likely to attend and graduate from college.

    It's no better in the workplace: Adults with ADHD lose an average of three weeks a year of productivity, according to the World Health Organization. They earn less than their coworkers, take more sick days, have more on-the-job accidents, and are more likely to be fired. They also don't get the support that students do. To succeed, they must take the lead by developing coping strategies themselves. [Read more: Surviving ADHD at Work and School.]

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    • Can Your Relationship Survive ADHD?

      Maybe he's the husband who manages his time poorly, grows bored within minutes, and falls through on promises to mow the lawn or get groceries. Maybe she's the wife who's disorganized and cluttered, overlooks details, and flits from one activity to the next. "One of the most common things I hear is, 'If you really loved me, you would remember to close the cabinets in the kitchen, or pay the bills on time, or call before you leave work,'" says psychotherapist Walter Sherburne of Andover, Mass. "I know one couple who ended up divorced because the husband decided he just couldn't live with someone who didn't close the kitchen cupboards."

      Welcome to an ADHD marriage.

      "Distractibility, forgetfulness, impulsivity—when you put the symptoms of [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] into a marriage, it creates havoc," says Matlen. "There's a lot of anger and resentment. You think your husband doesn't love you anymore, but he's completely dumbfounded because he has ADHD and doesn't have a good sense of how his behavior affects other people. Things can start to unravel pretty quickly."