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60 minutes of food coloring report ‘biased’

2 July 2009 978 views No Comment

Nutrition experts have criticised a report on the effects of food colouring on children by TV3’s 60 Minutes this week, with one dietician saying an experiment conducted by the programme was “one of the most biased you could ever hope to see”.

In the experiment, one group of children was given “healthy” food and the other was given “party” food containing artificial colouring.

The reporter commented on the differences in behaviour she observed, attributing those differences to food colouring in the items consumed.

The science behind the experiment was criticised by NZ Dietetic Association senior clinical dietician Lyn Gillanders, who said the research on the effects of additives on children’s behaviour was “very much a mixed bunch”.

There was no strong evidence linking additive consumption and behaviour changes, she said.

“The experiment conducted by TV3 was probably one of the most biased you could ever hope to see and only showed that if you hype children up enough with expectations and make them very excited about unlimited treat food that they hardly ever have, then they will behave badly,” she said

Auckland University of Technology nutrition Professor Elaine Rush said 60 Minutes agreed its experiment had not provided credible evidence.

She said parents should be looking at the nutritional value in the food they give their children.

Massey University nutrition and health lecturer Carol Wham said children who appeared to be affected by food colours should avoid them, and parents should help those children adjust to accepting food without additives.

Producers at 60 Minutes were unavailable for comment this evening.

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