Children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, tend to be hyperactive, have difficulty controlling their impulses and have trouble paying attention.
To manage their symptoms, these children are often prescribed to take ADHD drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall. Findings of a new study, however, suggest that healthy lifestyle habits can also benefit these kids.
In the study involving 184 children between 7 and 11 years old with ADHD and 104 kids of the same age without the condition, researchers have found that children with ADHD were less likely to observe healthy behaviors recommended by experts. These behaviors include limiting hours of screen time, spending time on physical activities, limiting intake of sugary beverages, sleeping at least 9 hours a day, and drinking at least seven cups of water a day.
"Children with ADHD were almost twice as likely to have fewer healthy behaviors, even after adjustment for age, sex, intelligence quotient (IQ), ADHD medication use, household income, and four comorbid psychiatric disorders," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders on April 28.
The researchers said adhering more to these healthy guidelines recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture could be beneficial for children with ADHD.
Study researcher Kathleen Holton, from the American University, said making changes to a number of lifestyle habits at once could pave way to other healthy behaviors.
She added that removing caffeinated drinks, for instance, may help increase water consumption and can help prevent sleep disturbances.
Results of the study showed that the parents of children with ADHD were more likely to report that their kids have difficulty falling asleep and were concerned that these sleep habits could lead to behavior issues.
A separate study published in the Journal of Sleep Research earlier this month has found sleep problems to be prevalent among kids with ADHD with researchers finding that kids with ADHD tend to sleep 45 minutes less compared with those who do not have the condition.
"Many parents of children diagnosed with ADHD do not want their children on medication. Having their children follow healthy lifestyle behaviors may be an effective intervention, either alongside or in the place of traditional ADHD medications," Holton said.