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An Alternative History of Hyperactivity: Food Additives and the Feingold Diet
     

An Alternative History of Hyperactivity: Food Additives and the Feingold Diet

by Matthew Smith
 

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In 1973, San Francisco allergist Ben Feingold created an uproar by claiming that synthetic food additives triggered hyperactivity, then the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder in the United States. He contended that the epidemic should not be treated with drugs such as Ritalin but, instead, with a food additive-free diet. Parents and the media considered his

Overview

In 1973, San Francisco allergist Ben Feingold created an uproar by claiming that synthetic food additives triggered hyperactivity, then the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder in the United States. He contended that the epidemic should not be treated with drugs such as Ritalin but, instead, with a food additive-free diet. Parents and the media considered his treatment, the Feingold diet, a compelling alternative. Physicians, however, were skeptical and designed dozens of trials to challenge the idea. The resulting medical opinion was that the diet did not work and it was rejected.

Matthew Smith asserts that those scientific conclusions were, in fact, flawed. An Alternative History of Hyperactivity explores the origins of the Feingold diet, revealing why it became so popular, and the ways in which physicians, parents, and the public made decisions about whether it was a valid treatment for hyperactivity. Arguing that the fate of Feingold's therapy depended more on cultural, economic, and political factors than on the scientific protocols designed to test it, Smith suggests the lessons learned can help resolve medical controversies more effectively.

Editorial Reviews

Social History of Medicine
"An Alternative History of Hyperactivity provides a novel dissection of a controversial medical treatment, illuminating many of the issues that characterised American medicine in the late twentieth century while simultaneously giving much-needed attention to the experience of patients and their families."
author of Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life - Cynthia Connolly
"This exciting book makes a significant contribution to the history of hyperactivity by investigating the Feingold diet from many different vantage points and examining the historical context in which this treatment was situated."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813550169
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
07/31/2011
Series:
Rutgers Series in Critical Issues in Health and Medicine
Pages:
262
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

MATTHEW SMITH is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK. He received the American Association for the History of Medicine's Pressman-Burroughs Wellcome Award in 2010.

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