ADHD is Associated with a “Western” Dietary Pattern in Adolescents

Another large, long prospective trial that implicates a “Western” diet with worse brain health. We have seen numerous studies implicate modern foods in depression and dementia. Now this amazing study from down under. This is the first study to clearly link a “western-style” diet with ADHD. This study followed almost 3000 kids from birth for 14 years. It found that eating more fat, saturated fat, sugar, refined carbs, and sodium and less omega-3s, folates, and fiber doubles the risk of getting an ADHD diagnosis. Kids who ate the most take-out food, potato chips, and soda were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Authors AL Howard, M Robinson, GJ Smith, GL Ambrosini, JP Piek, WH Oddy
Institution Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia
Publication Name Journal of Attention Disorders
Publication Date July 2011

To examine the relationship between dietary patterns and ADHD in a population-based cohort of adolescents.
The Raine Study is a prospective study following 2,868 live births. At the 14-year follow-up, the authors collected detailed adolescent dietary data, allowing for the determination of major dietary patterns using factor analysis. ADHD diagnoses were recorded according to International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision coding conventions. Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between scores for major dietary pattern and ADHD diagnoses.
Data were available for 1,799 adolescents, and a total of 115 adolescents had an ADHD diagnosis. Two major dietary patterns were identified: “Western” and “Healthy.” A higher score for the Western dietary pattern was associated with ADHD diagnosis (odds ratio=2.21, 95% confidence interval=1.18, 4.13) after adjusting for known confounding factors from pregnancy to 14 years. ADHD diagnosis was not associated with the “Healthy” dietary pattern.
A Western-style diet may be associated with ADHD.

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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