A new study by researchers at Ohio State University has found that diet may affect ADHD symptoms in kids and that eating healthily may mean improvements in focus and attention.
The study explored how diets could be linked to children’s ADHD symptoms. One of the key findings was that a healthy diet, which includes fruit and vegetables, could reduce symptoms.
According to researcher Irene Hatsu, “What clinicians usually do when kids with ADHD start having more severe symptoms is increase the dose of their treatment medication, if they are on one, or put them on medication.
Our studies suggest that it is worthwhile to check the children’s access to food as well as the quality of their diet to see if it may be contributing to their symptom severity.”
Can ADHD be affected by food?
It’s estimated that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 2.2% of children and 2.8% of adults. Symptoms can include impulsiveness, disorganization, excessive restlessness, poor time management, difficulty multitasking, and problems focusing on tasks.
For this study, the researchers looked into the link between diet and ADHD symptoms in kids, using data from a total of 134 six to twelve-year-olds from the Micronutrients for ADHD in Youth (MADDY) Study between 2018 and 2020.
First, they asked the parents about their kids’ diets. Then, they evaluated the effectiveness of different vitamins and minerals designed to treat ADHD symptoms. Finally, they examined how food insecurity can affect kids’ emotional regulation.
The results show that changes to diet can lead to improvements in ADHD symptoms and emotional regulation. This includes taking specially designed to boost brain function, as well as reducing food insecurity, which could be linked to more irritability and anger.
Hatsu added, “Everyone tends to get irritated when they’re hungry and kids with ADHD are no exception. If they’re not getting enough food, it could make their symptoms worse.
We believe clinicians should assess the food security status of children with ADHD before creating or changing a treatment program. Some symptoms might be more manageable by helping families become more food secure and able to provide a healthier diet.”