Study: Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

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    Mar 13, 2011 1:02 AM GMT
    Interesting study. Makes you wonder what else can be cured or managed without drugs that at times seem a bit too readily available.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/12/134456594/study-diet-may-help-adhd-kids-more-than-drugs?sc=fb&cc=fp

    Hyperactivity. Fidgeting. Inattention. Impulsivity. If your child has one or more of these qualities on a regular basis, you may be told that he or she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If so, they'd be among about 10 percent of children in the United States.

    Kids with ADHD can be restless and difficult to handle. Many of them are treated with drugs, but a new study says food may be the key. Published in The Lancet journal, the study suggests that with a very restrictive diet, kids with ADHD could experience a significant reduction in symptoms.

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    Mar 13, 2011 3:47 AM GMT
    I wonder what sort of restriction they mean...certain foods that trigger the symptoms, or caloric restriction, or sugar restriction?

    I haven't done my research on this one.

    No doubt they over prescribe drugs. That's what MDs do.
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    Mar 13, 2011 3:52 AM GMT
    That's certainly food for thought. People truly underestimate the power of proper eating and the benefits it entails.
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    Mar 13, 2011 4:11 AM GMT
    Here is the original study out of the Netherlands. This study evaluated the effect of a 5-week restricted elimination diet vs. no restricted diet in children aged 4-8 years who had been diagnosed with any ADHD subtype. Children receiving drugs or behavioral therapy for ADHD, and children already following a diet were excluded from the study. Of the 50 children in the diet group, two did not start the diet, six did not comply with it, and one became ill (total nine or 18%). Nonetheless, the study showed that the diet resulted in a greater reduction in the abbreviated Conners' scale score in the diet group compared to the non-diet group.

    The study is novel in that it looks, in a controlled and blinded fashion, at the influence of diet on childhood psychopathology. The next study should compare the restricted diet to stimulant medications or psychotherapy, as a way of determining whether the diet can compete head-to-head with the standard therapies. Even if it were shown that the restricted diet was comparable to current standard pharmacologic or behavioral therapies, it would be hard to promote as an alternative, especially in this day and age of some parents who would rather medicate their children than do the hard work of dealing with them.
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  • matt13226

    Posts: 829

    Mar 13, 2011 4:14 AM GMT
    they probably cut out alot of sugary foods like cakes and cookies and replace them with foods that have natural sugar example apples pears stuff like that an yes they do prescribe alot of pills i know i have add and i used to have to take 2 pills every day use to take aderall and then concerta i have been of the pills for a year or 2 now.
  • neosyllogy

    Posts: 1714

    Mar 13, 2011 4:34 AM GMT
    We'll see.
    Diet related causes (and treatments) for ADHD have been proposed and published before. None of them panned out when studies were repeated. Results were at best inconsistent.

    Not having read the paper referenced, I'll note that one problem with a lot of these kinds of studied is participation rates. People drop out of studies or don't comply with treatment. This is not a random subset of the population. People that are doing better while being treated (whether as a result of the treatment or not) are less likely to drop out -- in turn that skews the statistics of the study and makes the treatment look more effective than it is.

    Not saying that's the case here, but we'll see how this works out.
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    Mar 13, 2011 4:37 AM GMT
    Here is the restricted elimination diet (RED) used in the study: "In our study the RED was complemented with specific foods like potatoes, fruits, and wheat, to be eaten according to a compulsory intake schedule, in order to compose an elimination diet as comprehensive as possible for each individual child, thus making the intervention less incriminating for child and parents. If the parents reported no behavioural changes by the end of the second week, the RED was further restricted and gradually limited to the few foods diet: all other foods were prohibited, but vegetables, rice and meat were allowed every day, in unlimited amounts. Calcium was supplied daily via non-dairy rice drink with added calcium, ensuring that children were not at risk for nutrient deficiencies."

    I find it odd that many posters reflexively attack physician prescribing methods instead of questioning the role that parents have when it comes to overprescription for childhood diseases. Does this mean that pediatricians are at fault for prescribing antibiotics (anti-bacterial medications) when they know their patient has a viral infection, yet the parents are breathing down his/her neck to give their child something for relief? In our litigious society, how can pediatricians stand up to parents who threaten to sue them when they don't feel like their child's doctor is "doing enough"? As outlined in this presentation, physicians are losing the battle when it comes to information overload on the TV and internet, with patients coming in having "diagnosed" themselves and seeking medication instead of a thorough history taking and physical exam.
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  • neosyllogy

    Posts: 1714

    Mar 13, 2011 4:40 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidCut out all that processed garbage, white sugar, white flour .... [etc, etc].

    ^^No. (same as the rest of the generic "eat healthy" comments above)


    The paper is talking about foods that prompt an immune reaction. Not 'sugar madness'. If strawberries result in high-IgG levels (immunoglobulin G, an antibody type), then they're restricted. If pop tarts don't then they're not. Restricted foods are determined for each child individually.

    (Just looked at the actual paper, though this was alluded to in the article posted as well.
    Also, the processed/high sugar diet thing has already been done and largely discarded as a theory of ADHD etiology.)
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    Mar 13, 2011 7:56 PM GMT
    dsmith123 saidHere is the restricted elimination diet (RED) used in the study: "In our study the RED was complemented with specific foods like potatoes, fruits, and wheat, to be eaten according to a compulsory intake schedule, in order to compose an elimination diet as comprehensive as possible for each individual child, thus making the intervention less incriminating for child and parents. If the parents reported no behavioural changes by the end of the second week, the RED was further restricted and gradually limited to the few foods diet: all other foods were prohibited, but vegetables, rice and meat were allowed every day, in unlimited amounts. Calcium was supplied daily via non-dairy rice drink with added calcium, ensuring that children were not at risk for nutrient deficiencies."

    I find it odd that many posters reflexively attack physician prescribing methods instead of questioning the role that parents have when it comes to overprescription for childhood diseases. Does this mean that pediatricians are at fault for prescribing antibiotics (anti-bacterial medications) when they know their patient has a viral infection, yet the parents are breathing down his/her neck to give their child something for relief? In our litigious society, how can pediatricians stand up to parents who threaten to sue them when they don't feel like their child's doctor is "doing enough"? As outlined in this presentation, physicians are losing the battle when it comes to information overload on the TV and internet, with patients coming in having "diagnosed" themselves and seeking medication instead of a thorough history taking and physical exam.
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    Then they should prescribe a sugar pill or placebo and not tell the parents.
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    Mar 13, 2011 11:57 PM GMT
    bluey2223 said
    dsmith123 said
    I find it odd that many posters reflexively attack physician prescribing methods instead of questioning the role that parents have when it comes to overprescription for childhood diseases. Does this mean that pediatricians are at fault for prescribing antibiotics (anti-bacterial medications) when they know their patient has a viral infection, yet the parents are breathing down his/her neck to give their child something for relief? In our litigious society, how can pediatricians stand up to parents who threaten to sue them when they don't feel like their child's doctor is "doing enough"? As outlined in this presentation, physicians are losing the battle when it comes to information overload on the TV and internet, with patients coming in having "diagnosed" themselves and seeking medication instead of a thorough history taking and physical exam.
    forn1098l.jpg



    Then they should prescribe a sugar pill or placebo and not tell the parents.


    That's easier said than done because the meta-analysis studies have shown that antibiotics are marginally superior to placebos. That's enough justification for someone to bring forth a lawsuit against the physician who doesn't prescribe the antibiotic. Not telling the parents would be straight up medical negligence. If we didn't live in such a litigious society and physicians weren't cornered into practicing defensive medicine, there would certainly be room for reduced use of unnecessary medications and diagnostic tests. The differences between medical malpractice awards in the USA and other countries are discussed on this RJ thread from last week.
  • Beeftastic

    Posts: 1747

    Mar 14, 2011 12:09 AM GMT
    Unfortunately the study did not find common foods that might exacerbate ADHD. Perhaps future tests might begin to shed some light on this. If ADHD is caused primarily by food borne allergens, then surely there are some common foods can be eliminated to help children.