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Why Do 20 Percent of Boys in America Get ADHD?

This is insane. A New York Times article chronicles how up to one in five American boys get an ADHD diagnosis. Most of these kids are prescribed medication, stimulants similar to amphetamine (like Ritalin or Adderall):

Rates of ADHD diagnoses in children

NYT: A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise

Why? This is certainly not normal. Something is very wrong. But what?

Have a look at this US map of the rates of ADHD in children:

ADHD

ADHD

 

Doesn’t it look eerily familiar? It does.

Here are a few other maps:

Obesity

Obesity

 

Hmmm… the obesity epidemic matches the ADHD epidemic. Interesting.

And how about these maps:

Soda Per Capita

Soda and disease

Of course, it could be one big coincidence. Perhaps soda, obesity, diabetes and ADHD have nothing to do with each other.

Or perhaps too much sugar and other processed carbs is the main cause of least three different epidemics: obesity, diabetes and ADHD. That’s my guess.

What do you think?

PS

At least one well-designed study has shown that reducing sugar and other processed carbs (among other things) in the diet improved kids with ADHD.

Adding some omega-3 fats could help too.

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44 Comments

Top Comments

  1. François Melançon
    OK. here are my two cents worth... My colleague Dr Jason Fung is right when he states that correlation is not causation: Andreas has stated it himself on many occasions. This being said, let's examine the situation closer. We'll do this by looking at other diseases that affect the brain: this might help provide some insight into the situation.
    1. RESISTANT EPILEPSY. Children who suffer from resistant epilepsy may have more than 50 seizures per day despite massive doses of medication. They usually improve dramatically when they are started on a ketogenic diet (to give a ball park figure, that is less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day). The brain has no choice but to feed on the ketone bodies provided by the fat in the diet (and the small area of the brain that absolutely needs glucose gets it from transformation of protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis). Oftentimes, the number of seizures falls to zero. But some researchers made an interesting discovery: kids that were started on an Atkins diet (low carbs, high fat, not ketogenic) did almost as well. It is as if carbohydrates were toxic in high doses for these kids brains. Initially, it was thought that the ketone bodies were necessary to control the epilepsy. This research has shown that this is not true. Cutting the sugar alone does the job.
    2. ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. There is NO medication that improves people who suffer from Alzheimer...Medication, when it works, only slows the descending spiral of decrease in mental function.Recently, it was discovered that the brain of these people have great difficulties to process glucose and when one looks at a SPECT scan (google this), their brain seems "moth eaten". It is not. The brain tissue is there... It is simply "dormant" as it cannot process glucose. it is like a computer without power: the hardware and the software are there but the power is not on... When this brain is fed ketone bodies (either through a ketogenic diet or by feeding medium chain triglycerides (coconut oil) that are the best to transform into ketone bodies, many areas of this brain "wake up" and oftentimes, one can see major improvement in the intellectual performance of these people. No medication can achieve this.
    3. ADHD. Johnson and colleagues published in Post Grad medicine in 2011 an interesting paper titled "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Is it Time to Reappraise the Role of Sugar Consumption? They made an interesting hypothesis, that "we present the hypothesis that the chronic effects of excessive sugar intake may lead to alterations in mesolimbic dopamine signaling, which could contribute to the symptoms associated with ADHD". In their conclusion, they state: "We postulate that sugar acutely increases dopamine, which, over time, leads to a reduced number of D2 receptors and possibly a reduction in extracellular dopamine itself, leading to desensitization of this dopamine signaling axis. These effects would not be due to the acute effects of sugar, but rather would occur over weeks to months with chronically elevated and intermittent sugar ingestion. If this is true, then children with ADHD may ingest more sugar than other children in an attempt to correct the dopamine-deficient state, resulting in excessive sugar intake that could result in “sugar addiction” and increase their risk for obesity. These children would manifest with slightly higher uric acid levels, reflecting the increased sugar intake. Caregivers may consider that the acute effects of sugar are the cause of ADHD. However, the administration of sugar over days to weeks would be unlikely to induce greater symptoms of ADHD, especially if sucrose intake is compared with artificial sweeteners that can also elicit a dopamine response. Therefore, a potential causal relationship between sucrose and ADHD could have been missed in prior studies."

    It is not a mere coincidence that in many neurological conditions (and in all degenerative conditions - metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, heart disease), sugar makes the condition worse and restricting sugar makes all these conditions better.

    Sure, it would be surprizing that other causes would not play a role. But study after study, it is more and more clear that the insane levels of sugar we are eating have awful - and major - effects on our bodies.

    In the light of the Johnson artcle, the maps presented by Andreas are even more fascinating. This is more than simple coincidence. This is not only "correlation". There is enough evidence that sugar in high doses has some toxic effects on the body. In normal adults, safe levels seem to be anything up to 150 grams per day. Over that amount, side effects will appear.

    Of course, the food industry will try to convince people that this is absolutely wrong and that government has found that glucose was perfectly safe... That the cause of obesity is chairs (i.e. inactivity) which is only partly true. In many people, even high levels of physical activity cannot prevent obesity when the intake of carbs is too high, regardless of the Glycemic Index of the foods.

    Thank you, Andreas, for your superb blog.

    Read more →
  2. Kevin Harvey-Barratt
    God forbid we give up sugar! I have been off sugar, wheat and processed grains for over a year now, and my health had improved dramatically. Not only have I lost 75 lbs, but I feel better than I did when I was 20 years old (I'm 52 now).
    Sugar addiction is the worst epidemic in our culture. It's made worse by the fact that it's openly promoted by our capitalistic political structure. The lobbies for big food corporations are much more powerful than the health organizations fighting against them. Also, the health "Industry" is a slave to big pharmaceutical companies that make more money keeping us sick, than getting us well. It's a lose lose situation.
    Sorry for being so pessimistic, but it frustrates me constantly. Especially when my friends, and relatives are being diagnosed with cancers, and dying around me. All of them preventable through proper diet.
    Thank you Diet Dr. for the awareness!!!
    Reply: #18
    Read more →

All Comments

  1. Thrand Godfrey
    Great post as always Doc have sent many to your site :D
  2. Eva
    epidemics!!!!
    ADHD/ADD is definetly not an epidemic! where did that come from?
    Feel sad when I read this kind of info. :-(
    Reply: #4
  3. Ari
    US children are not plagued by ADHD only, but by Autism as well: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/02/autism-...
    Something is terribly wrong.
  4. ADHD/ADD is definetly not an epidemic!

    Yes, it is.

  5. giving children poison: that includes vaccines and junk food.........is an epidemic. Giving kids the ADHD diagnosis b/c they can't help it (thanks to the brain damaging effects of the above) is an epidemic.
    Reply: #15
  6. jen
    if my daughter had been in the public school system, she'd have been classified as having ADHD, too. we home schooled her all the way through high school. she bounced off the walls, as we worked with what we had. we didn't look at her tendencies as disabilities but as attributes.

    she rarely had pop and sugar. she was adopted and was fetal alcohol affected. she is not obese. btw, we complied with the adoption process regarding immunizations, but as soon as the adoption was complete, she had no more.

  7. Kevin Harvey-Barratt
    God forbid we give up sugar! I have been off sugar, wheat and processed grains for over a year now, and my health had improved dramatically. Not only have I lost 75 lbs, but I feel better than I did when I was 20 years old (I'm 52 now).
    Sugar addiction is the worst epidemic in our culture. It's made worse by the fact that it's openly promoted by our capitalistic political structure. The lobbies for big food corporations are much more powerful than the health organizations fighting against them. Also, the health "Industry" is a slave to big pharmaceutical companies that make more money keeping us sick, than getting us well. It's a lose lose situation.
    Sorry for being so pessimistic, but it frustrates me constantly. Especially when my friends, and relatives are being diagnosed with cancers, and dying around me. All of them preventable through proper diet.
    Thank you Diet Dr. for the awareness!!!
    Reply: #18
  8. It may also be the lack of nutrients that refined carbs push out of the diet. Phospholipids from egg yolks and organ meats? DHA?
    Reply: #12
  9. Mommy
    I believe that lack of proper nutrition in the parents upon conception of the child is the likely cause of brain disorders (autism spectrum disorders) like ADD/ADHD. Wish there was some research to back up my hunch. Any clue, Doc, if Gary Taubes and NuSI plan to look into that?
  10. Michelle
    @ Mommy. Dr Lustig and friends talk about this on the 'skinny on obesity' on youtube.
  11. Mommy
    @Michelle Thanks! I'll check that out.
  12. Jennapher
    You may be on to something Trish.. I grew up with pretty severe ADD but I was not a big fan of sugar. Now that I've cut out grains and replaced them with fresh veggies, nutritious meats and ofcourse good fats to feed the brain I feel much better. I'm not cured or anything, but I am more focused and my moods have stabilized for the most part. Sugar will definitely agitate the ADD but I doubt it's the actual cause.
    These maps do create an interesting picture... I feel like it's a puzzle.. sitting here at my desk trying to think of other things these states have in common.
  13. Crazy stuff! I'm thinking that consuming some probiotics might help too! My theory is that the fake sugars kill the gut bacteria which in turn starts the roller coaster of poor health.
  14. Mike
    Lisa: "giving children poison: that includes vaccines..."

    Nonsense.

  15. Craig Crawford
    ADHD is NOT brain damage, as a suffer of ADHD I surpass a LOT of people on an intellectual level.

    ADHD is an disorder of the encoding genes for various monoamine transporters. This could be considered an adaptation to the various things we are fed, or our mothers ate thinking it was "healthy." Instead, what happened is the brain has adapted itself to compensate for overstimulation from synthetic and poisonous natural chemicals.

    Also, did you REALLY just call vaccines a bad thing? Although we have almost largely eliminated polio and measles?

  16. Craig Crawford
    Anyway, as a sufferer of ADHD. My life has massively improved since I cut out sugar and carbs. I am happier, and can concentrate better.

    Plus, the heartburn and indigestion, IBS, and allergies which have plagued me for years have disappeared since going low-carb.

  17. Craig Crawford
    ADHD is the overproduction of monoamine transporters, thus removing the monoamines such as dopamine too quickly from the synapse... This leads to understimulation and thus, the symptoms of ADHD such as inattention, etc.

    ADHD medicine acts by blocking the monoamine transporters, allowing monoamines to remain longer in the synapse. Unfortunately, the brain, especially the ADHD brain adapts quick to the drugs and the dosage must be increased.

  18. Paulette Gordon
    Amen! People are ignorant, stubborn, and will find every excuse in the book not to make necessary changes. If you love sugars, starches and grains more than you love your health, good luck with that.
  19. When the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders("DSM-5"), currently in planning and preparation, due for publication in May 2013, will come out, we'll see other numbers of ADHD.
    From the other hand, the elimination diet is very helpful:
    "Effects of a restricted elimination diet on the behaviour of children with attention-deficit
    hyperactivity disorder (INCA study): a randomised controlled trial"
    http://www.adhdenvoeding.nl/cms/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Pelsser-Th...
  20. Mirva
    Take away sugary drinks + energydrinks, sugary snacks and foods and exclude teenage as a problem......how many do you have left as ADHD ?
    Reply: #24
  21. Dr. Jason Fung
    Andreas - I respect your opinions, but correlation is not causation and suggesting such a thing even with the disclaimer at the end is scientifically dishonest. Processed food, other than being high in sugars contain other chemicals (food additives, coloring) that may be responsible for the link.
    Replies: #28, #31
  22. Margaretrc
    Please, vaccines are not poison and they don't cause ADHD, autism, or any other mental disorder. Vaccines have helped us eliminate or drastically reduce some nasty diseases. I'm with Trish and others and think it could have to do with a number of things: epigenetics; mother's diet; lack of fat in the diet--Mom's and/or the kid's; too much sugar in the diet--mim's and/or child's. Thanks for your information on what it actually is, Ctaig.
  23. Kristine
    My son is gluten free because of emotional/ hyper issues.

    Once he was off gluten he leveled out emotionally and became less frenetic.

    I'd forgotten how he behaved until he accidentally ate a "real" bagel instead of a GF bagel. I couldn't get him to focus on school work, he was bouncing off the walls, running around etc...It took him 5 - that's FIVE - days to return to normal!

    A lightbulb went off in my head: what if some kids that are diagnosed ADHD are just gluten intolerant? My son didn't have physical symptoms like his stomach or digestion bothering him, just the emotional/hyper symptoms. It really makes me wonder especially after reading previous comments from adults that cut out carbs and wrote how it made them feel better & they had better concentration.

    Our society is just too quick to look at the symptoms and not the root cause!

    Reply: #43
  24. Jennapher
    That might take you from ADHD to just ADD but it's not going to eliminate the problem. I have never been a sugar person and suffer from ADD... cutting out grains and increasing my vegetable and fat intake has made a significant change but it's not gone.
    Sugar will agitate ADHD and ADD but it's not going to cause your kid to all of a sudden become ADHD/ADD.
  25. François Melançon
    OK. here are my two cents worth... My colleague Dr Jason Fung is right when he states that correlation is not causation: Andreas has stated it himself on many occasions. This being said, let's examine the situation closer. We'll do this by looking at other diseases that affect the brain: this might help provide some insight into the situation.
    1. RESISTANT EPILEPSY. Children who suffer from resistant epilepsy may have more than 50 seizures per day despite massive doses of medication. They usually improve dramatically when they are started on a ketogenic diet (to give a ball park figure, that is less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day). The brain has no choice but to feed on the ketone bodies provided by the fat in the diet (and the small area of the brain that absolutely needs glucose gets it from transformation of protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis). Oftentimes, the number of seizures falls to zero. But some researchers made an interesting discovery: kids that were started on an Atkins diet (low carbs, high fat, not ketogenic) did almost as well. It is as if carbohydrates were toxic in high doses for these kids brains. Initially, it was thought that the ketone bodies were necessary to control the epilepsy. This research has shown that this is not true. Cutting the sugar alone does the job.
    2. ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. There is NO medication that improves people who suffer from Alzheimer...Medication, when it works, only slows the descending spiral of decrease in mental function.Recently, it was discovered that the brain of these people have great difficulties to process glucose and when one looks at a SPECT scan (google this), their brain seems "moth eaten". It is not. The brain tissue is there... It is simply "dormant" as it cannot process glucose. it is like a computer without power: the hardware and the software are there but the power is not on... When this brain is fed ketone bodies (either through a ketogenic diet or by feeding medium chain triglycerides (coconut oil) that are the best to transform into ketone bodies, many areas of this brain "wake up" and oftentimes, one can see major improvement in the intellectual performance of these people. No medication can achieve this.
    3. ADHD. Johnson and colleagues published in Post Grad medicine in 2011 an interesting paper titled "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Is it Time to Reappraise the Role of Sugar Consumption? They made an interesting hypothesis, that "we present the hypothesis that the chronic effects of excessive sugar intake may lead to alterations in mesolimbic dopamine signaling, which could contribute to the symptoms associated with ADHD". In their conclusion, they state: "We postulate that sugar acutely increases dopamine, which, over time, leads to a reduced number of D2 receptors and possibly a reduction in extracellular dopamine itself, leading to desensitization of this dopamine signaling axis. These effects would not be due to the acute effects of sugar, but rather would occur over weeks to months with chronically elevated and intermittent sugar ingestion. If this is true, then children with ADHD may ingest more sugar than other children in an attempt to correct the dopamine-deficient state, resulting in excessive sugar intake that could result in “sugar addiction” and increase their risk for obesity. These children would manifest with slightly higher uric acid levels, reflecting the increased sugar intake. Caregivers may consider that the acute effects of sugar are the cause of ADHD. However, the administration of sugar over days to weeks would be unlikely to induce greater symptoms of ADHD, especially if sucrose intake is compared with artificial sweeteners that can also elicit a dopamine response. Therefore, a potential causal relationship between sucrose and ADHD could have been missed in prior studies."

    It is not a mere coincidence that in many neurological conditions (and in all degenerative conditions - metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, heart disease), sugar makes the condition worse and restricting sugar makes all these conditions better.

    Sure, it would be surprizing that other causes would not play a role. But study after study, it is more and more clear that the insane levels of sugar we are eating have awful - and major - effects on our bodies.

    In the light of the Johnson artcle, the maps presented by Andreas are even more fascinating. This is more than simple coincidence. This is not only "correlation". There is enough evidence that sugar in high doses has some toxic effects on the body. In normal adults, safe levels seem to be anything up to 150 grams per day. Over that amount, side effects will appear.

    Of course, the food industry will try to convince people that this is absolutely wrong and that government has found that glucose was perfectly safe... That the cause of obesity is chairs (i.e. inactivity) which is only partly true. In many people, even high levels of physical activity cannot prevent obesity when the intake of carbs is too high, regardless of the Glycemic Index of the foods.

    Thank you, Andreas, for your superb blog.

  26. High School Teacher
    It is evident when you see students after lunch that they have had it for the day. Of course, most of them eat chips and sugared drinks. People have talked about making the school day longer, but if the diet of high school students does not change, it won't make much difference.
  27. Dee
    Interesting and I'm sure there is something to these connections. But my son was a skinny kid (and now is a very slim adult) and grew up on a "real food" diet including his lunches which he took to school. I taught healthy cooking classes during his formative years. He still had ADD so you just never know. I never put him on drugs but he self-medicated when he grew up with pot, alcohol, and cigarettes. Sigh.
  28. Andreas - I respect your opinions, but correlation is not causation and suggesting such a thing even with the disclaimer at the end is scientifically dishonest.

    Looking at the post again I see that the headline was misleading. I apologize for that. I added a question mark.

    Apart from that I only show the correlation and I clearly point out that the possibility of causation is my "guess". There is nothing dishonest about that.

  29. What I notice is that a few people don't understand the "Elimination Diet" or didn't read the article:
    What you eliminate in this method are not only the obvious foods like, sugar, milk, eggs, bread, carbs etc. The funny thing is that one must also try to eliminate the NOT so obvious foods, like apples, tomatoes, meat etc. Everything!
    So this may take a long time before you'll find out what it is, but it's proven and worthwhile....
  30. Fiona Jesse Giffords
    The generation is getting more disease day by day. It hard to believe that all the health conditions are interrelated and America is facing a big issue in form of obesity which it need to handle seriously.
  31. Dr. Jason Fung
    I love your work. Keep it up. You are gracious as ever. Correlations are clearly hypothesis generating in nature and it is certainly not dishonest to point it out. One starts to cross the line when correlations are used to draw causal relationships and too much harm has come of that (Ancel Keys anybody?). Great job.
  32. As an American psychiatrist who treats ADHD with medications and/or nutrition interventions every day, I completely agree with you, Dr. Eenfeldt, that the American diet is a significant risk factor in attention disorders. I recently reviewed all of the research about diet and ADHD and it is clear that food choices make a HUGE difference in symptoms. The majority of these fascinating studies were, naturally, conducted in Europe (go Europe!).

    It is sad that most studies of sugar (that found no relationship between sugar and ADHD symptoms) were poorly designed, and therefore most psychiatrists in the U.S. believe that sugar is not a risk factor for ADHD. I am convinced based on everything I've read, my own personal and clinical experiences, and common sense, that people with attention problems can benefit tremendously from dietary changes.

    For complete details, including dietary recommendations: http://diagnosisdiet.com/tag/adhd/

  33. LowcarbNY
    What do I think?
    I think that correlation and causation are two different things. Your data may imply some level of correlation by it doesn't mean that there is any casual link.

    My son (16 yrs old) is ADHD, (it's a slam dunk diagnosis, not even close) . He takes methamphetamine. It greatly improves his ability to function. He has always been rail thin skinny. He has never been a soda drinker. He's been taking fish oil supplements for years too. He is an avid meat eater, but also a snack food fan.

    Just an anecdote, but one that does not match the scenario of suggested by the Blog.
    As a long time LCHF practitioner I see people in forums attribute nearly everything that happens to them to the diet that they just adopted. "I started Atkins and I had to have my gallbladder removed" , or "I did Low Carb and now I need glasses", or how about "I went on Keto and my hair turned grey." All of these things are correlated with diet but the causes were actually a) your 20+ years of being overweight b) being over 40 c) being being over 40.

    Sometimes it isn't your diet.

    Reply: #34
  34. Francois Melancon
    ''Sometimes it isn't your diet''.
    An absolutely true point. Though many (if not most) cases of ADHD - or for all intents many or most cases of many other conditions (ranging from epilepsy to Lou Gherig's disease, from cancer to heart disease) are in direct relation with diet, there is a percentage that are not.
    The important point here is nevertheless that even though it may not explain all cases, there still may be a causal relationship - causal, not only a correlation - And there is sufficient evidence now to indicate that in ADHD, there is a causal relationship with diet.

    Disease is caused by many different interacting factors. It is felt that environmental and social factors account for 20%, personal behaviors for 40%, family history and genetics for 30% and medical care for 10%. What many people fail to realize with genetics is that genes may express disease or health depending on the environment (type of food, exercise or lack thereof...) So even if there is a strong genetic history of some diseases, one may prevent the gene from expressing disease by providing it with the right environment.
    Unfortunately, even the best diet cannot protect against all disease. There were some cases of cancer in hunters-gatherers: they were rare, extremely rare, but there were some. Anyone who pretends that a diet can cure every condition does not know what he/she is speaking about. A good diet and exercise will prevent many diseases and help make some others less of a problem. But no diet can prevent or cure all disease. Which is not a reason for not eating the best diet possible.

  35. FrankG
    No doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that: there never was causation proven between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer?

    Any Randomised Controlled Trials with human subjects would have had serious ethical issues; so it seems we have convinced large portions of our society to quit smoking, based only on epidemiological correlation... albeit strong but correlation nonetheless.

    Were we wrong, or did that one make sense as well?

  36. Francois melancon
    "No doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that: there never was causation proven between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer?

    Any Randomised Controlled Trials with human subjects would have had serious ethical issues; so it seems we have convinced large portions of our society to quit smoking, based only on epidemiological correlation... albeit strong but correlation nonetheless."

    I should call this the joys of epidemiology...
    FrankG, you are absolutely right... And yet you are wrong somewhat! Let me explain. What you are right about is the point you make about ethical issues with randomized control trials in humans. This does complicate a great deal establishing causal relationships but there are no ways around it. For example, I am convinced that VOC (Volatile Organic Coumpounds) found in household cleaning products are causal in childhood asthma and explain for a great deal the explosion of asthma cases.... But though these products are for sale everywhere, as long as I suspect a causal relationship with a disease, ethics forbids me from exposing people to something I suspect of causing disease... Even though they will by it regardless. I am therefore stuck with observational studies... Either case-controls (compoaring the differences between those that have the disease of interest and those who do not, hopefully finding a difference) or cohort studies, where I will look at exposed people and unexposed (if I can find any) and observing who will develop disease and who will not. Long and tedious.

    But despite the fact that these are correlations, it is still possible to conclude causation under the weight of evidence. I have printed an abstract below that explains this quite well.

    "Smoking and lung cancer: recent evidence and a discussion of some questions*

    Jerome Cornfield1,
    William Haenszel2,
    E. Cuyler Hammond3,
    Abraham M. Lilienfeld4,
    Michael B. Shimkin5 and
    Ernst L. Wynder6

    Summary This report reviews some of the more recent epidemiologic and experimental findings on the relationship of tobacco smoking to lung cancer, and discusses some criticisms directed against the conclusion that tobacco smoking, especially cigarettes, has a causal role in the increase in broncho-genic carcinoma. The magnitude of the excess lung-cancer risk among cigarette smokers is so great that the results can not be interpreted as arising from an indirect association of cigarette smoking with some other agent or characteristic, since this hypothetical agent would have to be at least as strongly associated with lung cancer as cigarette use; no such agent has been found or suggested. The consistency of all the epidemiologic and experimental evidence also supports the conclusion of a causal relationship with cigarette smoking, while there are serious inconsistencies in reconciling the evidence with other hypotheses which have been advanced. Unquestionably there are areas where more research is necessary, and, of course, no single cause accounts for all lung cancer. The information already available, however, is sufficient for planning and activating public health measures. – J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 22:173–203, 1959."

    So even though randomized control trials are a "no-no" when one is looking at a substance that could potentially have deliterious effects on human health, it is still possible to infer causation under the weight of the evidence. This means lots of high quality studies and very high number of patients.

    This high quality is extremely important. Observational studies on the effect of sugar and ADHD are of poor quality. One study for example only cut actual sugar but the kids continued eating a very high glycemic carb-loaded junk food diet with well over 300 grams per day of carbs from junk food (french fries, chips, etc). Can you conclude anything from such a poor piece of research? Not really! But many people were happy to jump on the band wagon and claim that this sugar causation was wrong.

    We are facing a very powerful and rich group of people in the food industry who have a vested interest in making you sick so they can then sell you specially formulated meals for sick people. The techniques they use are the same the tobacco industry used years ago. Yet it has been proven that tobacco causes lung cancer (and heart disease among other things). So let's not lose hope. The evidence is piling up. We can make America healthy again, one person at the time.

  37. Stacy in USA
    And this is why folks who aren't familiar with how social programs in the USA work shouldn't comment on this situation.

    Doc, familiarize yourself with how Medicaid and SSI (disability benefits) incentivize the ADHD diagnosis for those living in poverty. And how affluent folks game the SAT/ACT testing system by getting the diagnosis for testing accomodations.

    I'm all for LCHF but your post is poorly informed.

  38. I personally suffered/suffer from ADHD. What I ahve figured out myself is leaky gut syndrome most certainly contributes to my case as well as gluten though that is a loop back of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

    Lack of fatty acids and of course, low dopamine. I'm not 100% but I'm nearly there and it takes work for me each and every day to maintain focus, motivation and control.

  39. Cassie
    It's doctors whom are the one's that keep saying the diet is too hard to comply with, so they don't see it as an option. What is this about?
  40. Francois Melancon
    It's the doctors whom are the ones whom keep saying that the diet is too hard to comply with...

    Cassie,

    You are right: many physicians do say that. many also say that such a diet will lack many nutrients. And they are SO wrong! It is the contrary! I think I can say this since I am a physician myself. Nutrition is only a very small part of what physicians learn: a few hours in a 6 years period. After these few hours, those who want to learn more are left to themselves...

    As physicians, we are taught how to diagnose conditions and what pill to give for what condition. But we are not taught to go to the source of the problem. Diabetes is treated by pills and insulin... The conventional diet approach is basically stupid: carbs and more carbs! And more pills and insulin.

    Physicians are not taught to question conventional wisdom... That people MUST eat breads (who said that? it is absolutely not true! )

    Where physicians are right is that they reference the low carb ketogenic diets that other physicians devised to treat epilepsy. Unfortunately the fact someone knows biochemistry does not mean he/she knows how to create a meal... What was devised for the poor epileptic kids by physicians is crappy at the most. But this does not reflect the real very tasty ketogenic diet you can eat... just look at the picture posted on this blog that shows 30 grams of carbs: the vegetable way and the flour way. Fr taste, I'd choose vegetables any time over bread and pasta. And those who say a ketogenic diet is bland and boring do not know what they are speaking about. They only repeat "conventional wisdom" that is false.

    I have been eating a ketogenic diet. what I aim for is 50 grams of carbs. That's a lot of vegetables. My main problem is eating in restaurants: a bit more complicated,Mobutu not impossible. My diet is tasty and I'm working with my wife who is a nurse by trade to write a nutrition book. hopefully, we'll get it published soon.

    there are more and more physicians who believe in the major advantages of a ketogenic diet. they are few and far between, but not impossible to find. Good luck!

  41. I'm a professor and I rarely have to sit in a class room for 6 hours a day and study stuff that is boring or too easy or too hard without any say in the matter. I don't have a solution because there are positive sides but take the kid out of school for a little bit and then see if there is ADHD.
    Reply: #44
  42. Michele
    I have read everyone's comments and I've come away with so much information I can use on so many levels. Thank you!!
    My son has ADHD/ Depression and he just turned 17. My heart has broke many times for my son watching people say mean things about his behavior only because they don't understand. Yes, he is trying for me (his only parent) and his older sisters (they don't have ADHD or depression) but we manage to get by with humor and we support each other.
    My question is exactly what types of foods/snacks/drinks would anyone here suggest for him to have that might help him gain some weight? He's so aware about how thin he is that he'll wear long sleeves all the time in school.
    I'm not trying to be dumb about this matter however I'm getting desperate for some help by individuals who understand and or have been or are there. Thank you. :)
  43. Karen
    I have a 8 yo son who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. I am in Queensland Australia. I am very concerned that the doctor did not look in any depth into my sons eating and preferred foods... I asked about fructose and gluten intolerance and I was made to feel that was nothing to do with his behaviour and learning difficulties. Have there been any in depth studies about the effects of fructose on the developing brain, link to learning disorders and behaviour disorders. I have reduced but not eliminated his wheat and grain intake and reduced his fruit intake while increasing his eggs, butter and some meat for protein intake as well as starting him on a basic generic omega 3 chewable for children. I have a prescription for Ritalin but decided to not start him on it until I see how dietary adjustment work for him. Interested to hear other parents opinions and experiences to as this seems to be a global forum that is open to varying interpretations. Could ADHD or ADD be a version of insulin resistance, some sort of misappropriation of glucose/sucrose/fructose by the synapse pathways affecting dopamine transference... or childhood dementia given a different label. Also have started looking into SPECT and that intriguing research. I am not an academic so trying to put pieces together in my layman non scientific terms. I hope that made sense?
  44. Karen
    Dr Feinman, I've noticed when my boys attend "Scouts" their ADHD and ODD behaviours subside.....
    Maybe one of those other discussions... Something about four walls and sitting in chairs ....

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