Quick! Wrestle that fork out of your teenager’s hand and read this before he takes another bite.
According to new research, reported on in the Journal of Attention Disorders, the highly processed Western diet is associated with more than double the risk of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Researchers collected data on a group of 2,868 children in Australia (starting at birth). Out of the total group, 115 of the kids were eventually diagnosed with ADHD.
When the scientists analyzed the diets of the children…now teenagers…they were surprised to find a clear association between some of the kids’ diets and a diagnosis of ADHD. They found that those teens with the disorder had diets high in heavily processed foods…full of saturated fats, refined sugar, and processed foods. In fact those on this unhealthy Western diet had more than twice the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD!
Now the race is on to find out exactly why.
One theory revolves around omega-3 fatty acids. Diets high in omega-3’s have already been associated with optimal brain function, reducing the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Now, researchers theorize that the Western diet—which is typically deficient in them—might be contributing to worsening ADHD symptoms as well.
The often-unpronounceable chemical food additives, colorings, and flavorings you find in processed foods are also cited as likely culprits in the rise of ADHD symptoms.
While the researchers did warn that this study alone doesn’t prove that a poor diet leads to ADHD, I’d say it’s as close as we have gotten yet to a blinking neon sign urging caution. I’m sure that most parents and grandparents would agree with me when I say it’s time for us to do something about the poisonous Western diet that that’s ruining our kid’s health.
You can start immediately by introducing more omega-3-rich foods, including fish, walnuts, beans, winter squash, and olive oil, to the family dinner table. Replace the snack foods typically marketed to our kids with additive-free organic choices. And skip Fast-food Friday and opt for a healthy fix-it-together meal night at home.
We may not be able to keep all those chemical additives out of the food, but we can keep the unhealthy food out of our kids.