The number of children and adolescents diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are on the increase, with reports indicating that as many as 11 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with the medical condition.
The report came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that new research indicated that the number of ADHD cases has risen significantly over the past decade. Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder.
Official figures reveal that about 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.
This represents a 53 percent increase from the amount of children diagnosed with ADHD over the past 10 years, with one out of every five high school-aged boys being diagnosed with ADHD, according to The New York Times.
"Those are astronomical numbers. I'm floored," Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told The Times. "Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy."
Around two-thirds of those individuals diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. Those drugs can help quell the effects of hyperactivity, but adolescents prescribed such medication run the risk of abuse and dependency later in life.
Other research, however, indicates that the cause for such a steep increase in those diagnosis numbers is the fact that the average American diet is poor.
Researchers from Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago stated that they have found evidence which indicates a child's diet affects attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Although there is limited evidence that any diet helps kids overcome ADHD, researchers believe the western diet certainly doesn't help kids with the disorder, and that incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids into their diet could help.
Australian researchers also previously concluded in one study that kids who ate a western-style diet- high in fat, salt and refined sugars- were at more risk to get ADHD than kids who had a healthy diet rich in vegetables, folates, and omega-3 fatty acids.
"I am a firm believer that we ultimately are what we eat, and unfortunately as a result of our poor Western diet, we see this in the increase in the rate of obesity, particularly in the young population," Dr. Roberto Lopez-Alberola, chief of pediatric neurology at University of Miami School of Medicine, told the Associated Press.