Today there are far more children seem to suffer from hyperactivity than in the past. Obviously the problem has always been there but I can't help thinking that the increased consumption of junk food and sugary fizzy drinks plays a role. Preservatives, food colouring and other additives have been much more widely used in the UK than in neighbouring countries in Europe. Also the UK's consumption of junk food (mainly from US-based multinationals) is much higher than in the rest of Europe.
When we moved from Germany to the UK one of my sons developed a severe allergic reaction in his skin. He suffered with an allergy to pollen every summer but this was something new. After consulting the doctor we concluded that he was exposed to far more additives in the food we were buying than previously. Just as an example UK jams use far more additives than those in Germany; the additives mean that you can store the jam at room temperature but are probably not good for you. From that time on we tried to be more careful with additives.
I have always assumed that burger multinationals use a lot of additives. A burger need not be unhealthy or no more so than other things like meatballs that use minced beef. However I have always been suspicious of the amounts of mayo, the plastic-looking processed cheese and insipid salad leaves used by the big chains. In yesterday's Independent there was an interesting report on McDonalds and additives.
The whole report is worth reading but the following quote covers the key findings.
Analysis by The Independent reveals that Britain's biggest burger company pumps a total of 78 different artificial additives into its food on 578 separate occasions, an average of seven E-numbers per product. Although McDonald's emphasises its burgers are 100 per cent beef, the buns, cheese and sauces that go with them are high in E-numbers.
The Big Mac has 18 separate additives and a cheeseburger 17 separate additives, while a chocolate milkshake has eight different chemicals.
Additives are present in almost everything on the menu, including the grilled chicken and salads.
I am certainly not an expert on additives and know that not all E-numbers are harmful. However some are definitely linked with behavioural side effects in children see Action on Additives website. Junk food is typically high in fat, salt and sugars but additives alone make it worth avoiding - for kids especially!