Food and Behaviour Research

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A randomised controlled trial into the effects of food on ADHD.

Pelsser LM, Frankena K, Toorman J, Savelkoul HF, Pereira RR, Buitelaar JK. (2009) Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry.  18(1): 12-9. Epub 2008 Apr 21. 

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Abstract:

The aim of this study is to assess the efficacy of a restricted elimination diet in reducing symptoms in an unselected group of children with Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dietary studies have already shown evidence of efficacy in selected subgroups.

Twenty-seven children (mean age 6.2) who all met the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD, were assigned randomly to either an intervention group (15/27) or a waiting-list control group (12/27). Primary endpoint was the clinical response, i.e. a decrease in the symptom scores by 50% or more, at week 9 based on parent and teacher ratings on the abbreviated ten-item Conners Scale and the ADHD-DSM-IV Rating Scale.

The intention-to-treat analysis showed that the number of clinical responders in the intervention group was significantly larger than that in the control group [parent ratings 11/15 (73%) versus 0/12 (0%); teacher ratings, 7/10 (70%) versus 0/7 (0%)]. The Number of ADHD criteria on the ADHD Rating Scale showed an effect size of 2.1 (cohen's d) and a scale reduction of 69.4%. Comorbid symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder also showed a significantly greater decrease in the intervention group than it did in the control group (cohens's d 1.1, scale reduction 45.3%).

A strictly supervised elimination diet may be a valuable instrument in testing young children with ADHD on whether dietary factors may contribute to the manifestation of the disorder and may have a beneficial effect on the children's behaviour.