How diet might be connected to ADHD in children

Researchers in Iran recently published a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, showing a connection between diet and ADHD.

The researchers studied the dietary habits and ADHD symptoms of 500 children between the ages of 4 and 12. As they analyzed the data on the children’s diet, they noticed two dietary patterns: healthy and Western.

Healthy diet

According to the study, a healthy diet was rich in the following foods:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Vegetable oils
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy products

Western diet

Likewise, the researchers considered a child followed a Western diet if they consumed a lot of the following foods:

  • Processed meat
  • Red meat
  • Pizza
  • Eggs
  • Snacks
  • Animal fat
  • Hydrogenated fat
  • Salt

The researchers then split the participants into 5 subgroups for each dietary pattern, depending how much of those foods they consumed. They found that the participants who consumed the Western diet the most also had greater odds of having ADHD, compared to the participants who consumed the Western diet the least. They discovered the opposite effect with the healthy diet: those who ate the healthy diet the most had the lowest odds of having ADHD.

This is one more study in a growing body of research showing a connection between what we eat and our mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.