The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a lower rate of diagnosis of ADHD, according to new research. The study is the first scientific work to have correlated the Mediterranean diet and this condition, and suggests that dietary habits could impact the development of this psychiatric disorder.
The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, notes that future studies will have to explicitly establish a relation of causality between the two.
Mediterranean Diet Correlated With Less Risks Of Developing ADHD
ADHD is one of the most common disorders among children and adolescents, as approximately 3.4 percent of the people in this age group are affected globally. The consequences of this disorder can last until adulthood. Hyperactivity, impulsiveness and lack of attention are some of the most common symptoms.
The mechanisms linking ADHD and a poor quality diet are yet to be discovered. However, previous studies have created associations between some dietary habits (such as ones with processed foods or low fruit and vegetable contents) and this disorder. Although it may seem obvious that a balanced nutrition plays a crucial role in the developmental processes of children and adolescents, the exact mechanism linking the Mediterranean diet specifically and the disease will have to be further researched.
As part of the study, 120 children and adolescents, out of which 60 were part of the control group and another 60 were suffering from the disease, were investigated. Among the indices measured as part of the study, dietary intake, energy, adherence to the Mediterranean diet and familial background were analyzed.
The results of the study suggest that a lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a higher rate of ADHD diagnosis.
The current research strongly associates the Mediterranean diet with ADHD, even after adjusting for cofounding variables. Most of the subjects diagnosed with ADHD did not have a second serving of fruit every day, and they also consumed a reduced quantity of vegetables, pasta or rice almost every time in comparison to the control group. Additionally, children and adolescents who suffered from ADHD were used to eating at fast food restaurants, and they were found to eat breakfast more rarely compared with the control group.
"Lower frequency of consuming fruit, vegetables, pasta, and rice and higher frequency of skipping breakfast and eating at fast-food restaurants were associated with ADHD diagnosis. High consumption of sugar, candy, cola beverages, and noncola soft drinks and low consumption of fatty fish were also associated with a higher prevalence of ADHD diagnosis," noted the research.
The Mediterranean Diet, Good For Kids
Additional studies also show that the Mediterranean diet was found to be beneficial for children and adolescents. A study conducted in 2014 indicated that children who adhered to the Mediterranean diet recorded a drop in body mass index as well as fat mass. The diet was helpful in preventing obesity in children and adolescents.
"With respect to diet composition, the [Mediterranean-style diet] group exhibited a significant increase in the consumption of dietary fiber, proteins, omega 9 fatty acids, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, and flavonoids, furthermore, they consumed fewer saturated fatty acids," noted that research.
Although causality between developing ADHD and not having adhered to the Mediterranean diet is lacking, children and adolescents who do follow this dietary style were found to be healthier. At the same time, the diet has to be adapted to their needs, and alcohol, for instance, would have to be ruled out.