Sodium benzoate-rich beverage consumption is associated with increased reporting of ADHD symptoms in college students: a pilot investigation

J Atten Disord. 2014 Apr;18(3):236-41. doi: 10.1177/1087054712443156. Epub 2012 Apr 25.


Objective: Sodium benzoate, a common additive in popular beverages, has recently been linked to ADHD. This research examined the relationship between sodium benzoate-rich beverage ingestion and symptoms related to ADHD in college students.

Method: College students (N = 475) completed an anonymous survey in class in fall 2010. The survey assessed recent intake of a noninclusive list of sodium benzoate-rich beverages and ADHD-related symptoms using a validated screener.

Results: Sodium benzoate-rich beverage intake was significantly associated with ADHD-related symptoms (p = .001), and significance was retained after controlling for covariates. Students scoring ≥4 on the screener (scores that may be consistent with ADHD; n = 67) reported higher intakes (34.9 ± 4.4 servings/month) than the remainder of the sample (16.7 ± 1.1 servings/month).

Conclusion: These data suggest that a high intake of sodium benzoate-rich beverages may contribute to ADHD-related symptoms in college students and warrants further investigation.

Keywords: ADHD; beverage consumption; college students; sodium benzoate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / chemically induced*
  • Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sodium Benzoate / adverse effects*
  • Sodium Benzoate / analysis
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Universities
  • Young Adult


  • Sodium Benzoate