The Stop-Feeding-Kids-Crap Trial

Image courtesy Flickr/Alpha

If you’ve ever wondered whether junk foods really do affect a kid’s behavior, then a recent study, entitled “Effects of a Restricted Elimination Diet on the Behavior of Children with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” was designed for you.

First, take 100 kids. Then take them off anything processed. Just feed them healthy whole foods like meat, rice, pears, water, fruit. Then measure their behavior with standardized tools to assess attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

After five weeks on a diet of these foods, 78% of the kids showed improved behavior. That’s pretty awesome in itself. The researchers then did something that made the study much, much stronger. They put them back on their regular diets, and found that most of the kids began to show more symptoms of ADHD again.

The abstract below is rather dense, as the study included two phases and not only used standard ADHD rating scales, but also tested all the kids for food allergies. But the implications are clear: whole simple food means better behavior and better learning.

Data like this begs the question: should we advise parents who have children with ADHD to start feeding them whole, simple food? Sure. A tasty, side-effect free intervention that won’t help everyone avoid ADHD, but could help some. And why not feed kids the right brain foods at school to minimize behavioral problems and promote learning? More schools around the country are improving what they offer a la Jamie Oliver’s show Food Revolution. Nothing makes me happier than hearing about Farm to School programs like the ones here.

There is a lot of controversy about ADHD and adult ADD as a diagnosis. I have seen both clinically and many patients benefit from the traditional treatment with medication.

But we could do better by our kids, and their diets. And this study suggests that we should.
More schools around the country are improving what they offer a la Jamie Oliver’s show Food Revolution. Nothing makes me happier than hearing about Farm to School programs from this great site.

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Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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