ADHD increasing

New figures from the US show alarming increases in ADHD diagnosis. When my first book was published twenty years ago, experts estimated that 3-5% of US children suffered from ADHD.  Now, the most recent survey reveals that:

  • on average, about 11% of US children have a diagnosis of ADHD
  • over 18% of children - nearly one in five – have an ADHD diagnosis in Kentucky (the highest)
  • 10% of children take medication for ADHD in Lousiana (the highest)

The cause of ADHD was originally assumed to be genetic, but with any condition that increases so fast, obviously there are environmental factors involved.

In traditional Amish and Mennonite religious communities in the US, ADHD is virtually unknown.

Members of these communities live on family farms, farm without pesticides, mostly eat fresh, unprocessed foods, avoid cosmetics and use horse drawn buggies.  A study of ten Old Order Mennonite women in mid pregnancy found they generally had much lower levels than the US average for various pesticides and environmental chemicals thought to be associated with ADHD or autism. The three women who reported being in a car or truck within 48 hours of providing a urine sample had higher levels of a chemical found in PVC in car interiors. The one woman who had reported using hairspray and perfume had high levels of a perfume fixative called MEP, while the nine other women all had levels of MEP below detection.

The diet that we recommend includes eating mostly fresh, unprocessed foods, as well as avoidance of fragranced products, and chemical or ‘new’ smells including new cars. It works well for our Network members - see typical story below – but is not officially recognised as treatment for ADHD.  US food regulators still deny even that artificial colours can affect behaviour. Last year, they refused to approve a European-type warning on artificial colours “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” because they say artificial dyes do not cause ADHD – and that is true. Removing artificial colours would be just a small first step.  But with figures like that, wouldn’t you think they would do something to help struggling parents? 

You can help: sign the petition at

References and further reading

ADHD statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Martina CA, Weiss B, Swan SH. Lifestyle behaviors associated with exposures to endocrine disruptors. Neurotoxicology. 2012;33(6):1427-33.

Center for Science on the Public Interest (CSPI) on Food dyes: A rainbow of risks

Reader story

[926] I am a primary teacher with 3 children of my own. I first heard about your book 'Fed Up' when a student in my class was diagnosed with ADHD and his mother decided to try changing his diet rather than medicating him. The change in this boy was amazing. I wrote down the details of your book to recommend it to other parents in the future, but ironically I now use your book myself as my six year old has just been diagnosed with ADHD. We had been eating a diet low in artificial additives for years after discovering that my children were reacting to the preservative 282 in bread but have just recently begun failsafe eating after my son's diagnosis. In doing so we discovered that all 3 of our children were reacting to salicylates … see more

See our entire ADHD story collection at

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