Children's diet not the main cause of ADHD

May 29, 2008

Food may not be the major cause of hyperactivity in children. Genetics, brain function and parental actions such as smoking may be just as important.

A review of scientific evidence found only a minority of children were actually affected by what they eat. A combination of food, genetics and environmental toxins are more likely to be involved, with no single factor to blame.

Foods which might affect behaviour, in particular table sugar were studied. No adverse effects were seen in children who had a sugary drink versus a drink with artificial sweetener. Parents often believe their children’s diet is making them hyperactive and think changes in the food provided is the answer to the problem. However changing your child’s diet is not likely to settle their over active behaviour.

ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) has a strong genetic link, with half the children born of parents with diagnosed ADHD likely to develop the disorder themselves. Chemical imbalances in the brain are also involved and studies have found that children with the condition have on average 4% smaller brains. Genes may interact with environmental toxins such as alcohol in the womb, lead, and parental smoking to cause later problems with attention span.

Professor David Benton, who specialises in eating behaviour and who carried out the study said ‘Parents say after an hour of eating sugary foods that their child is distracted and fidgety, but studies show that this is more what the mother expects to see and not what’s really going on’. He added ‘the origin of the idea that sugar is responsible for hyperactivity seems to be purely based on the fact that sugar is a source of energy, as are other carbohydrates. Foods like wheat and dairy can often cause food intolerance in children, but this is a completely different reaction of the immune system.’

This review which was carried out at the University of Wales, Swansea is published in the May issue of the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. It comes at a time when the Food Standards Agency is looking at other causes of hyperactivity in children with a call to remove certain additives in foods.

Up to 9% of children in the U.K. have been diagnosed with ADHD. Problems are usually seen at around 4 years of age when the child may become easily distracted, fidgety, and impulsive over a long period of time.

Source: The Sugar Bureau

Explore further: Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Social robots helping children with diabetes

Nov 14, 2014

Social robots are helping diabetic children accept the nature of their condition and become more confident about their futures, scientists have announced following a four-and-a-half year research study.

Flies give another twist in the evolving story of heredity

Oct 10, 2014

Thanks to the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, and his experiments cross-breading peas, the textbooks tell us that we know how inheritance works: we get 50% of our genes from our mums and 50% of our genes ...

Building synthetic plants

Jun 20, 2014

A movement is under way that will fast-forward the design of new plant traits. It takes inspiration from engineering and the software industry, and is being underpinned in Cambridge and Norwich by an initiative ...

You catch (and kill) more flies with this sweetener

Jun 04, 2014

In a study that began as a sixth-grade science fair project, researchers at Drexel University have found that a popular non-nutritive sweetener, erythritol, may be an effective and human-safe insecticide.

Recommended for you

At one month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

2 hours ago

The U.S. program that requires weeks of monitoring for travelers from African countries with Ebola reaches the one-month mark Thursday. And so far, no cases of the disease have turned up.

EU calls for 5,000 doctors to fight Ebola

3 hours ago

The European Commission called for 5,000 doctors to be sent from EU states to combat west Africa's Ebola epidemic, a European source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

Guinea, hit by Ebola, reports only one cholera case

3 hours ago

The health workers rode on canoes and rickety boats to deliver cholera vaccines to remote islands in Guinea. Months later, the country has recorded only one confirmed cholera case this year, down from thousands.

Sierra Leone official: Ebola worst could be over

3 hours ago

The Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, which has been surging in recent days, may have reached its peak and be on the verge of slowing down, Sierra Leone's information minister said Wednesday.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nilbud
not rated yet May 29, 2008
%u2018Parents say after an hour of eating sugary foods that their child is distracted and fidgety, but studies show that this is more what the mother expects to see and not what%u2019s really going on%u2019.

Wow, that's not in the least big misogynist, damn those lying women.
westonprice
not rated yet May 29, 2008
holy crap what a crappy study. So food doesn't change the chemical makeup of the brain but other stuff can? right

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.