Monday, October 12, 2009

Eating Twizzlers = ADHD in children?

Now, I'm fan of Twizzlers. I love the red twisted whips of sugary goodness, but in moderation. When my friend sent me this article I said, "Whaaaaaaaat?"

According to this article, the licorice they are referring to is licorice which contains glycyrrhizic acid. Most black licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which is the main sweetening compound. It is 30-50 times more sweet than regular table sugar (aka sucrose). They claim that 321 mothers from Finland ate in excess of 100 grams (or 3.5 ounces, an equivalent to about a package and a third of regular Twizzlers for comparison) of black licorice during their pregnancy.

The article goes on to say that children exposed to these levels of glycyrrhizic acid  "performed significantly worse than their peers when tested on vocabulary, memory and spatial awareness." and were more likely "to have poor attention spans and show disruptive behavior, both hallmarks of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."

Now, this is not to say that you mothers out there should stop having Twizzlers at the movies. I think in this instance where there is a prevalance in Europe for the "stronger stuff". In 2008, the  European Commission stated that, "people should not consume any more than 100mg of glycyrrhizic acid a day, for it can raise blood pressure or cause muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, headaches or swelling, and lower testosterone levels in men".

Haribo, maker of items like gummy bears and the like, "advises, as with any other food, liquorice products should be eaten in moderation." The article continues with, "A study of only 321 kids is really not enough to be meaningful. Since ADHD only affects five to seven percent of the population, statistically speaking, only 21 of those kids may actually have a true diagnosis of ADHD.”

So, let us not panic about eating black licorice, for it is quite tasty. Let us remind ourselves not to stuff our mouths with it on a daily basis, as that is gluttony. And, as always, with any child (including ASD and non ASD):  Too much sugar + children = CRAZY!


  1. but is that actual licorice? or the stuff with fake flavorings?

    and the stuff in scandinavia is salted licorice. so the increase in salt intake could be aq factor too.

    not to really rag on a study i havent read, but it still sounds like a coincedental finding. have they tried the purified acid in developmental studies in animals?

  2. I don't think this particular group has done any testing on animals. I think the focus of the article was that you shouldn't be eating a whole bunch of licorice, as it can have adverse effects, even during pregnancy.

    Could the ADHD symptoms be coincidental? Possibly. There is no mention of the parents psychological history and there are so many facets as to where ADHD/hyperactivity comes from. I just thought it was an interesting avenue to go take a look at.