Sue's Blog

Rising violence and ultra-processed foods


  • Violence is increasing in children, adults and against women (1)
  • At the same time, ultra processed food (UPF) consumption has been increasing.

While UPFs have been linked to many adverse health effects including obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, early death from all causes, and depression, recently, Brazilian researchers have found a connection between UPFs and domestic violence (2).

Additive-free school trials around the world – including ours – find that children are calmer after 10 days without additives (3).

Food chemicals both natural and artificial can cause aggression and violent reactions in some people. Everyone is different. The best way to find out if you are affected – and by which chemicals - is to do the RPAH elimination diet with challenges. There are many dietitians trained in this protocol.

Five stories from failsafers

A 15 year old talks about propionate preservatives, that were introduced into Australian food in the 1990s and are now consumed every day by most people, often hidden under innocent-sounding names

Mother: "Do you find 282 affects you that badly?"
Teen: "HELL YEAH, I find a huge almost uncontrollable anger building up inside me, for no reason, and I feel I just want to punch something or someone….” [206]

Annatto (natural colour 160b)

”Annatto (160b) is one of the main things that I need to keep out of my son's diet, he cannot control his temper when he eats something containing it and is generally cranky and violent - Kristy [1352]

Improvements on the diet in an amine responder

“My 7 yo son has gone from a "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" personality, which included plain meanness, virulent on-and-off ODD, and actual violence... to the all-around nice, bright kid I knew he was… “ [1295]

Unlabelled additive, due to the 5% labelling loophole

“Our very aggressive 5 year old improved dramatically on the elimination diet … after several weeks of excellent behaviour, he gradually deteriorated to the stage where he was uncontrollable, breaking windows and punching others… we found the culprit - unlabelled BHA 320 in vegetable oil used in a gourmet garlic paste that we had started to use more frequently. There was no effect when it was eaten occasionally, but it caused catastrophic results when used every day.” [1037]

Domestic violence due to artificial colours?

“Last weekend I assaulted my wife and did horrific damage to her face… I had been drinking… then consumed two strawberry sundae tubs of icecream ... in the past I have never reacted violently after drinking alcohol… from the ages 18-25 I experienced panic and violent moods, then I started to look at my diet. Cordials with artificial colours especially red had been a part of my diet and I noticed a link. Since then I have avoided food colours wherever possible, however I simply overlooked the strawberry sundae as I love desserts and was having a good time. I think I have stumbled on to the cause for my actions….” [304]

Aggression and violence

In 1965, when highly processed foods were just beginning, allergist Dr Ben Feingold was the first to link food chemicals to behaviour – including aggression - in children and adults.

“The psychiatrist then revealed that this woman had been in psychotherapy for about two years. She’d been hostile and aggressive, unable to get along with her husband or family or co-workers. In less than two weeks (on diet) , these conditions had cleared.”

He suggested that these foods could be the cause of “steadily growing …unprovoked aggression and violence”, pointing out that “not a single one of the synthetics used in our food has been subjected to the rigid investigations required for licensing drugs”. From Why your Child is Hyperactive, Ben F Feingold, MD, 1975 (pages 2 and 161).

It is time everyone started listening. Avoiding ultra-processed foods in schools would be a good start.


More information

See our blog Prevent violence with diet

Story collection on aggression (67 pages)

Story collection on violence (54 pages)

Introduction to diet


1. Violence in schools

2. Marques ES and others, Association Between Family Physical Violence Victimization and Food Consumption Among Brazilian Adolescents, J Interpers Violence. 2021 Nov;36(21-22):10182-10197.

3. Additive-free trials and schools