ADHD Symptoms May Benefit from Better Nutrition

Having a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is challenging on many levels. Not only are the daily tasks of childrearing made more difficult, but chronic, untreated symptoms can place children at risk of substance abuse, impaired academic performance, and even juvenile delinquency. The good news is that better nutrition can improve prognoses, even when other medical and therapeutic remedies fail.

That’s the encouraging implication of a recent review published in Pediatrics, in which researchers looked at various dietary interventions, including sugar-restriction, multivitamin supplementation, omega-3 pills, and avoidance of all foods containing artificial ingredients, such as preservatives or food dyes. Despite the “buzz” around this last category, the study authors conclude that there is not enough evidence of the effectiveness of eliminating all potentially aggravating food additives to justify the time-consuming, disruptive nature of such measures. Instead, greater nutrition education for both parents and children “is perhaps the most promising and practical complementary or alternative treatment of ADHD,” the study concludes.

Fostering a better understanding of the role of children’s nutrition is key to rolling back the tide of childhood obesity as well. Excess weight predisposes children to joint problems, earaches, absenteeism, and social difficulties, such as being ostracized or bullied.  Moreover, obesity drives increased hypertension among children, which in turn raises the risk of learning disorders by 18%.  

Published February 1, 2014