Some children with ADHD can benefit from change in diet

Some children with ADHD can benefit from change in diet

By Liz Lockhart

Many studies have been conducted in the past into the significance of diet for young people and children who have ADHD.  Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have joined forces with child and adolescent psychiatrists to review many of these studies and have produced an extensive report.

The study is headed by Kim Fleischer Michaelsen from the Department of Human Nutrition at the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen.    Professor Fleischer says ‘Our conclusion is that more research is required in the area.  There is a lot to suggest that by changing their diet, it is possible to improve the condition for some ADHD children.  Several of the studies show, for example, that fatty acids from fatty fish moderate the symptoms.  Other studies detect no effect.’

‘Elimination diets are also promising.  These look at whether there is anything in the diet which the children cannot consume without adverse side effects.  However, we still lack knowledge about which children with ADHD benefit from dietary changes, how positive the effect is in the long term and what the changes mean for children’s health.’

The report suggests that not all children with ADHD benefit from changes in their diet.  There would appear to be many unknown factors.

‘There are different types of ADHD, and the disturbance is probably due to both genetic and environmental factors.  We know that children with ADHD react very differently to both medication and dietary changes.  We therefore need to study which children benefit from dietary changes, and whether we can identify genetic or environmental factors that can predict this,’ said Tine Haumann, a consultant at the Centre for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

It would seem that a much larger study into this is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.  The researchers on this study hope that it may be possible to reduce the use of medication and instead develop special dietary advice for children, as they acquire more knowledge on the subject.

Professor Fleischer said ‘It is promising that many research results indicate that dietary changes can help some ADHD children.  However, it is crucial that bigger studies on dietary changes are conducted on children with ADHD to see how effective this is and how long the benefits last.’  She stressed that parents should always seek professional advice before changing their child’s diet.


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