Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

Posted on March 13, 2011  Comments (2)

Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

Kids with ADHD can be restless and difficult to handle. Many of them are treated with drugs, but a new study says food may be the key. Published in The Lancet journal, the study suggests that with a very restrictive diet, kids with ADHD could experience a significant reduction in symptoms.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, writes in The Lancet that the disorder is triggered in many cases by external factors — and those can be treated through changes to one’s environment. “ADHD, it’s just a couple of symptoms — it’s not a disease,” the Dutch researcher tells All Things Considered weekend host Guy Raz.

The way we think about — and treat — these behaviors is wrong, Pelsser says. “There is a paradigm shift needed. If a child is diagnosed ADHD, we should say, ‘OK, we have got those symptoms, now let’s start looking for a cause.’ ”

According to Pelsser, 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food. Researchers determined that by starting kids on a very elaborate diet, then restricting it over a few weeks’ time. “It’s only five weeks,” Pelsser says. “If it is the diet, then we start to find out which foods are causing the problems.”

Teachers and doctors who worked with children in the study reported marked changes in behavior. “In fact, they were flabbergasted,” Pelsser says.

Related: Nearly 1 million Children Potentially Misdiagnosed with ADHD in the USALifestyle Drugs and RiskOver-reliance on Prescription Drugs to Aid Children’s Sleep?Epidemic of Diagnoses

Previous paper by Lidy M. Pelsse, and others: Effects of food on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD: a randomised controlled pilot study, suggested the possible course of study the most recent paper explores. A nice example of the scientific inquiry process at work.

Dietary intervention studies have shown convincing evidence of efficacy in reducing ADHD symptoms in children. In this pilot study, we investigated the effects of an elimination diet on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD.

An elimination diet may be an effective instrument to reduce physical complaints in children with ADHD, but more research is needed to determine the effects of food on (functional) somatic symptoms in children with and without ADHD.

2 Responses to “Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs”

  1. Laura
    March 23rd, 2011 @ 2:18 am

    I think the discussion of diet should play an important role when looking at ADHD. So should TV watching and lack of outdoor activity. While diet is important for lots of issues with kids, it is for adults too. If we are bad to our bodies, how can we expect our bodies to be good to us?

  2. steve
    April 12th, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    Is it true that adhd is on the rise, I cant remember any kids when i was a young having symtpoms. I think our current diets are so bad for everyone, all those chemicals.

    Most kids i have known with adhd have had really bad diet’s. if my kid had it i would try him on a raw food diet for sure.

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