Children who consume food additives such as colourings and preservatives are more likely to have behavioural problems according to British research.

The study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood was conducted on 277 three-year-olds over four weeks. During the first week, their diet contained no additives. During the next three weeks, the children were secretly given a daily dose of 20 milligrams of food colouring as well as 45 milligrams of sodium benzoate.

Parents said additive-consuming children were calmer than usual the first week and the opposite for the following three weeks. The number of children classified as hyperactive fell to 6% from 15% with the change in diet.