The name hyperkinesis
refers to a broad range of symptoms seen in some children. These include
physical overactivity that is inappropriate for the task, short attention
span and other abnormal responses.
Some years ago
Dr Ben Feingold, of the Allergy Department of the Kaiser-Permanente
Medical Centre in San Francisco, advanced the hypothesis that salicylates
(chemicals that occur naturally in some foods), food flavours and
food colours were associated with hyperkinesis and learning disabilities
in some children. Feingold claimed that approximately 50 per cent
of children with hyperkinesis and learning difficulties improved when
kept on a strict diet that excluded foods containing salicylates and
artificial colours and flavours.
Many studies have
been conducted to investigate this hypothesis. The results of the
studies are uncertain but it is quite clear that the improvement rate
is far lower than that originally claimed.