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A new Australian study suggests that ADHD in adolescents might be linked to Western diets that tend to be high in refined sugar and sodium, total fat and saturated fat.

ADHD short for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been lately the subject of dietary dilemma. Just within the last three years, a study in Southampton University in the UK reported an association between a combination of artificial food colorings and hyperactivity in children.

Other research pinpoints the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in improving the condition.

The latest study, which came from the Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, observed the dietary patterns of 1,800 adolescents from the long-term Raine Study - a cohort study of Western Australians from their birth in 1989 - and classified diets of Western or Healthy patterns.

The Western diet was trademarked by an inclination towards takeaway foods, fried and refined foods, confectionary and processed foods - all that had higher contents of total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar and sodium.

The Healthy diet obviously was all about high consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish - all tended to be packed with omega-3 fatty acids, folate and fibre.

The study led by Dr Wendy Oddy, observed the dietary patterns amongst adolescents and compared the diet details against whether or not they had received an ADHD diagnosis by age 14.

A total of 115 adolescents had been diagnosed with ADHD, of which 91 were boys, and 24 were girls.

According to Dr Oddy, a diet high in the Western pattern of foods was related with more than double the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD compared with a diet low in the Western pattern, following adjustments of other variables such as social and family influences.

She concluded, When we looked at specific foods, having an ADHD diagnosis was associated with a high diet in takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products and confectionery.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role for better mental health and optimal brain function, said Dr Oddy.

She explained that the Western diet may not provide enough essential micronutrients needed for brain function especially for attention and concentration. 
She did not dismiss the possible influence of colorings and other artificial additives, and also the connection between ADHD and poor dietary patterns.

Scientists agree that more studies are required for in-depth study of the observed association.

This is a cross-sectional study so we cannot be sure whether a poor diet leads to ADHD or whether ADHD leads to poor dietary choices and cravings, Dr Oddy concluded.