A possible link between food additives and children's behaviour was highlighted by the Food Commission pressure group yesterday.
The commission, which campaigns for wholesome food, pinpointed a government-sponsored report connecting food and drink colourings and preservatives with hyperactivity in children.
The previously unpublished study, of 277 children aged three, was carried out in June 2000 by experts at the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre on the Isle of Wight.
The researchers found many parents noticing "significant changes" in their children's behaviour after consuming a drink containing four colourings and one preservative. The ingredients can be found in a wide range of products, many designed to appeal to the young.
The Food Standards Agency, for whom the report was carried out, distanced itself from the results, saying other scientific experts had found it was "not conclusive".