Study Says Junk Food is Linked to ADHD

July 30, 2010

New research from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research suggests that there is a link between ADHD and a diet that includes processed, fried, and refined foods.

Strike another blow for the “Western-style” diet.

New research from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia, shows a link between ADHD and a diet that includes processed, fried, and refined foods.

In a study published in Journal of Attention Disorders, a team of researchers led by Amber L. Howard, observed the dietary patterns of 1,800 adolescents from the Raine Study, and categorized diets into two categories. A “healthy” diet is high in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fish, and tends to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids, folate and fiber, while a “Western” diet tends to consist of takeout and other processed foods, and tends to be higher in total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar, and sodium.

Howard and colleagues recorded ADHD diagnoses according to International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision coding conventions, and used logistic regression to assess the relationship between scores for major dietary pattern and ADHD diagnoses.

Of the adolescents observed, a total of 115 were diagnosed with ADHD; after adjusting for known confounding factors, researchers determined that a higher score for the Western dietary pattern was associated with ADHD diagnosis. They also found that “ADHD diagnosis was not associated with the ‘healthy’ dietary pattern.”

Further study is needed to determine the nature of the association, said researchers.