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Could a Healthy Diet Treat Kids with ADHD?

Could a Healthy Diet Treat Kids with ADHD?

Researchers from Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago believe they have found evidence which indicates a child’s diet affects attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Although there is limited evidence that any diet that 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.

According to CBS news, the researchers reviewed 70 past studies and found that very little research supports the idea that sugar or artificial sweeteners have any affect on a child’s behavior.

In addition, there also isn’t much evidence from to support special eating plans like the Feingold diet, which became popular in the 1970’s. In the diet, children avoid foods containing red or orange dyes and preservatives, such as apples and lunch meats.

The researched diets included those which used omega-3 fatty acid supplements, those which restricted sugar, and those which restricted additives and preservatives- like the Feingold diet.

Australian researchers 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," said Dr. Roberto Lopez-Alberola, chief of pediatric neurology at University of Miami School of Medicine to HealthDay.

 "The fast foods. The processed food. The preservative-rich foods … In the same way we see an impact physically, it's going to have an impact from the neurodevelopmental standpoint. It's not surprising we see a parallel in the increase in obesity and in ADHD," he added.

But HealthDay also reports that some doctors aren’t ready to give up on medicine like Adderall and Ritalin, which have so far been the only well researched tools in treating ADHD.

"For better or worse, medications are the single most effective treatment available for ADHD," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

 "We don't have data to suggest dietary interventions are any more effective than medications, and there is little, if any, data to suggest dietary interventions are as effective as medications," said Dr. Adesman.

The doctor said he understands parents not wanting to medicate their young children, but that there is not enough research to substantiate the diet claims.

Approximately 9.5 percent of American children have ADHD. The entire review can be found in the February issue of Pediatrics.

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