ADHD and diet connected among preschoolers

Chinese researchers recently published a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showing a connection between diet and ADHD symptoms in children.

The researchers assessed dietary intakes and ADHD of nearly 15,000 children between the ages of 3 and 6. While analyzing the data, they found the following 5 dietary patterns:

  1. Processed: high-fat, processed foods, such as fried foods, smoked foods, Western fast foods, and preserved fruit
  2. Protein: rice and processed products, red meat, poultry, egg, fish, and other fishery products, and fruits
  3. Snack: high intakes of sweets, chocolate, puffed food, and other foods with high sugar content
  4. Beverage: flavoured milk drinks, carbonated beverages, and yogurt
  5. Vegetarian: coarse food grain, wheat and wheat foods, beans in various forms, all types of vegetables, and fresh fruit/vegetable juice

They also organized responses into 6 frequency categories:

  1. Never
  2. 1–3 times per week
  3. 4–6 times per week
  4. 1 time per day
  5. 2 times per day
  6. and 3 or more times per day

What they found is that those whose dietary habits were more in the processed, snack, and beverage patterns had a higher likelihood of also having ADHD. In fact, those whose ate from those categories the most frequently were more likely to have ADHD than those who ate the least frequently from those categories.

On the other hand, those who were highest in the vegetarian pattern had a lower likelihood of also having ADHD.

This study joins a growing body of research showing a strong connection between mental health and what we consume. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.