Today in the ABC there were two separate news releases in sequence.

The first (1) talked about research that described inadequate nutrition in pre-school, both in terms of quantity and quality. As usual the quality focus was on current obsessions, “high carbs, not a lot of protein, high saturated fat”, with no mention of the known effects of food additives which can produce exactly the behaviours that were the main problem observed.

The second (2) reported that one third of children emerge unable to read functionally “caused by persisting with teaching styles popular at universities, but ‘contrary to science’ and discredited by inquiries in all major English-speaking countries”. Teaching methods were blamed, not any known effects of food additives on learning.

Who can join the dots between these articles? Educator policymakers don’t understand nutrition, psychology researchers don’t understand this area, quality food research fails to be translated into action, Ministers say what they are told (“the science on teaching reading had been settled!”) while the kids and nation suffer.

What does it take to get action?

Here was a study (3,4) with over a million students in 803 New York City schools:

The removal of additives from school meals was strongly associated with a reduction of learning disabilities (75,000 students no longer LD) and improved academic achievement (from 11% below average to 5% above) in the largest study of its kind ever done.

“No other school district reported such a large gain above the rest of the nation so quickly …”

There is plenty of other evidence, but who is listening with wider understanding?


1. Young kids failing to get adequate nutrition in early childcare centres, research suggests 12/02/2024 and Pearce K et al, The apples of academic performance: association between dietary patterns and academic performance in Australian children, J School Health, 2018;88(6):444-449.
2. One third of Australian children can't read properly as teaching methods cause 'preventable tragedy', Grattan Institute says 12/02/2024 and

3. Schoenthaler, SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA. 1986 – The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools, International Journal of Biosocial Research, Vol. 8(2): 185-195

4. Schoenthaler, SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA. 1986a – The Testing of Various Hypotheses as Explanations for the Gains in National Standardized Academic Test Scores in the 1978-1983 New York City Nutrition Policy Modification Project, International Journal of Biosocial Research, Vol. 8(2): 196-203

More information

See trials in Australian schools of reducing additives for just two weeks:



Disruptive school behaviour and food additives

Diet first for ADHD

Diet at school

ADHD in Australia costs $20 billion a year but no mention of diet?

Diet and academic performance: are researchers reinventing the wheel?

Goldfish have a longer attention span