Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interesting Link Between ADHD and Food Choices

PERTH, Australia, July 31 (UPI) -- Australian researchers linked the "Western-style" diet -- processed, fried and refined foods -- and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Researchers at Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research say a diet high in the Western pattern of foods high in fat, refined sugar and sodium -- is associated with more than double the risk of having an ADHD diagnosis compared with a diet low in the Western pattern.

The study, published in the International Journal of Attention Disorders, suggests teens eating what the researchers characterized as a healthy diet -- lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fish and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, folate and fiber -- provides mental health benefits and optimal brain function.

However, the researchers point out it is not clear if the healthy diet provides essential micronutrients needed for brain function -- particularly attention and concentration -- or if other substances in the Western diet -- colors, flavors and other additives -- may lead to an increase in ADHD symptoms. In addition, impulsivity -- a characteristic of ADHD -- leads to poor dietary choices such as quick snacks when hungry.

"We cannot be sure whether a poor diet leads to ADHD or whether ADHD leads to poor dietary choices and cravings," study leader Wendy Oddy said in a statement.

Oddy and colleagues examined the dietary patterns of 1,800 adolescents of whom 115 had been diagnosed with ADHD by age 14.

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