Is an azo-free diet nutritionally superior than one containing azo-dyes?

Lok, K. Y. W., Grimshaw, K.E.C., McCann, Donna C. and Stevenson, Jim E. (2006) Is an azo-free diet nutritionally superior than one containing azo-dyes? Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 19, (6), pp. 465-466. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2006.00734.x).


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Background: Few data are available in the literature as to
whether an additive-free diet is more nutritious when
compared to one that contains azo-dyes. The aim of this
study was to investigate whether there is a significant
difference in the nutritional content of an azo-free diet
compared to one that contains azo-dyes. This formed
part of an extension of a study that looked at the effect
of food additives on behaviour of children (Bateman,

Methods: Azo-dyes [(E102), (E104), (E110), (E122),
(E123), 4R (E124), (E127), (E128), (E129), (E131), (E132),
(E133), (E142), (E151), (E154), (E155), (E180)] and a
preservative [(Sodium benzoate (E211)] were eliminated
from the diet of children. The study dietitian advised
families on how to avoid foods that contain food colours
and preservatives such as those found in certain brands of
beverages, sweets, cakes, ice lollies, desserts, jam and
crisps. To aid compliance to the diet, suitable alternatives
were recommended. The parents of 21 children (11
females) aged 8–9 years completed a 7 day food diary
(baseline) before and during week 3 of the diet period.
The food diaries were collected and coded for portion
sizes by the study dietitian and analysed using CompEat.
Nutrient values were compared to the recommended
nutrient intake. The data was analysed using SPSS 12 and
paired samples t-test (significance level P £ 0.005).
Results: There was no significant difference in energy,
protein or fat intake between baseline diet and the azo-dye
free diet. There was a reduction in the mean intake of
carbohydrate (P = 0.000), sugar (P = 0.000), phosphorous
(P = 0.005), magnesium (P = 0.002), potassium
(P = 0.005), chloride (P = 0.003) and vitamin C (P = 0.002)
when an azo-free diet was followed.
Discussions: Any dietary manipulation may effect overall
nutrient intake. The effect may result in a nutritionally
superior diet but this is not always the case (Isolauri
et al., 1998). The children in this study showed that
eliminating azo-dyes from their diet resulted in their
intake of two micronutrients (potassium and magnesium)
and one macronutrient (carbohydrate) being below
that recommended for their age (Department of Health,

Conclusion: Elimination diets may have a detrimental effect
on nutritional intake, even when the food that is
eliminated is perceived as unhealthy. Any nutritional
manipulation should be made with caution and the resultant
diet should be assessed to ensure its nutritional adequacy.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2006.00734.x
ISSNs: 0952-3871 (print)
Venue - Dates: British Dietetic Association Conference 2006, 2006-12-01
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
ePrint ID: 146103
Date :
Date Event
December 2006Published
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2010 14:34
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 19:56
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