Joined up government – wasn’t that the mantra a couple of years ago? Well…
Only this week we reported that the Food Standards Agency had updated its lists of manufacturers who did not use the artificial colours that research has shown to affect both hyperactive and even normal children. (See the Lancet – and here for a fuller report.) Excellent. Then, in yesterday’s post, I got a letter from Sally Bunday, the founder and tireless coordinator of the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group, to say that they were finally having to ‘mothball’ the group because, since the publication of the 2008 NICE review of the management of ADHD had dismissed dietary and nutrition approaches as useless, their dwindling funds had more or less dried up.
So the Food Standards Agency spends significant amounts of money on commissioning research from Professor Vyvyan Howard at the University of Liverpool which tells them that removing artificial colours from the diets of hyperactive children (at no cost to anyone) could signifcantly improve the children’s behaviour – and NICE ignores the advice in favour of continuing to treat hyperactive children with Ritalin and other stimulant drugs at considerable expense to the NHS and with potentially damaging effects for the children.
The idiocy of of this situation aside, it is tragic that a group which has battled so hard and helped so many thousands of desperate families, should be allowed to wither and die when 3-5% of all children are still believed to suffer from ADHD, and when diet (especially the removal of additives and allergens) has so often proved to the be the key to normalising these children’s behaviour.
It is particularly sad for Sally herself who has persevered, despite many personal tragedies, with the work of research and support for which so many will remember her. If only the money which is spent on prescriptions for Ritalin could be spent on widespread dietary interventions of the kind she advocates, it might become apparent how effective it can be.
Meanwhile, the HACSG’s website will continue to function and those who want to know more about a dietary approach can read Sally’s article on our website or check into www.feingold.org, the website of the US group, founded by Dr Ben Feingold a pioneer of the dietary approach to behavioural problems. You could also take a look at another US website, Latitudes, which appears regularly on the FM site.
If you wish to have a shout at NICE about their failure to take note of the research on diet and ADHD, follow the links from their ‘Get Involved’ page. If enough of us contact them, maybe someone will take note and, in these straightened times, will institute a further review their approach to to include more cost effective dietary approaches.