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The debate on diet and ADHD behaviors continues

Whether or not a change in diet can affect ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) behaviors has been debated since the 1970s. The first controlled study was completed in 1976 based on a medical doctor’s claim that he began noticing an improvement in his patients’ behaviors when placed on a diet free of food dyes and artificial additives. The side effects and risk factors involved in medicating children have brought on the debate for an alternative solution to minimizing ADHD behaviors for decades.

Although the National Institute of Health has dismissed restricted diet as a scientific means to control ADHD, some parents involved in the controlled studies over the past decades have noticed an improvement in ADHD behaviors when a diet restricted of food additives and dyes are managed with their child. Studies have shown that not all children will benefit from this form of restricted diet. To what percentage of children can be helped with these types of restrictions is unclear but doctors and parents do know that some children benefit from the altered diet. In addition to food dyes some parents found eliminating milk and wheat products improved behaviors. Some studies have shown that children with asthma, eczema, and other allergy problems will be more likely to benefit from a diet restricted of food dyes, artificial colors and flavorings and dairy products than children without these allergy conditions.

Dr. Mathew Crouch, a local child psychiatrist, has been known to encourage parents to try a diet restriction as a test to see if the parents can identify a noticeable difference in behavior. Changing your child’s diet can be a simple test and worse case scenario the parents won’t see a change. At best, the parents may notice an improvement in behaviors based on certain foods.

For more information on the research mentioned here, you can view the Diet, ADHD, & Behavior published report updated in 2008 through Center for Science in Public Interest out of Washington D.C. The Center for Science in Public Interest is a nonprofit health-advocacy organization.

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