Diet, ADHD and school suspensions


A recent survey found that a quarter of students with ADHD have been suspended for ADHD-type behaviour with more than forty per cent of suspensions occurring in the first three years of primary school.

Disappointingly, there was no mention of diet, yet failsafers tell us it makes a huge difference.

Failsafer report

By mid second term - pre-diet, in Kindergarten – (my son with severe ADHD/severe Anxiety Disorder/ ODD) had been suspended 7 times for violent behaviour ... Since the diet, he hasn't even been sent to the Deputy – from reader story [217]

School trials

Likewise, when Howard and I ran a 2-week additive free trial at Nana Glen primary school, Principal Laurie Renshall was extremely impressed by the results: 

“… this year we’ve averaged 6 students on detention per week. Over this last week (the second week of the additive-free trial), we haven’t had one student on detention. It speaks volumes for itself.”

VNanaGlen   Watch video

New studies

With 3 new studies last month showing a range of health risks associated with ultra-processed foods – from obesity to premature death from any cause - wouldn’t you think schools would want to go additive-free all the time?

“The dietary advice is  … eat less ultra-processed food and more unprocessed or minimally processed food.” – Professor Mark Lawrence and Phillip Baker from Deakin University

More reader stories about ADHD-type behaviour and suspensions

… my son didn’t get diagnosed (with ADHD) until 15, didn't think he would ever finish high school … this year he has started his Year 12 Uni pathway and has goals, such a total turn around to a kid that failed most of his school life, with hatred from teachers, no concentration or focus, more suspensions and phone calls from teachers than I care to remember … I wish more people would look into what their kids are eating … – Bec [1303]

Our 12 yr old son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, and we'd experienced over 15 school suspensions between year 1 and 2 due to periods of uncontrolled violence. Since we found the Failsafe diet 7 years ago, our lives have turned around, and it is so easy to love him, including his wicked sense of humour and self-confidence – Natasha [1273]

… My 9 year old son has ADHD, ODD, OCD, anxiety and a learning disability. He was denied enrolment at 2 schools because they feared his ADHD would disrupt other children. He was constantly in trouble at school and has been suspended …  It wasn't until we were at our wits’ end … that I decided to buy your book … A year on, our son avoids salicylates and additives … the little boy I got glimpses of occasionally over the last 9 years is now that nice little boy all day EVERY DAY! and other people can see it . – Leonie from story [1009] 

(My daughter) … was diagnosed with ADHD & SPD the elimination diet worked so well 6 years later we still follow it ….  My kid was getting suspended twice a year and on behaviour programs, we started (diet) and now she's honour roll going on to a scholarship … – Nina from story [1503]

I have had extremely severe ADHD and Aspergers diagnosed from when I was six and depression so serious that I have been suicidal for the past two years  … At school I was  … "that girl who's suspended because she lost her mind when she was asked to do work with a partner" … Before this diet I was surviving, and now I am genuinely, for the first time in my whole life, living life to the full … - Ffion from story [1395]

This week marks the last week of prep for my daughter.  She has done well ... a far cry from the first term at school, where I was called every second day, where I had to take her home some days, and she was suspended one day …  she came back a different child after we started the diet …  In the first term she had 12 incidents recorded against her name … In the second term only 2 (corresponded with challenging milk and then salicylates) and as far as I know no incident the last 2 terms … - Roxanne [1370] 

The science

3 new studies last month showed a range of health risks associated with ultra-processed foods – from obesity to premature death from any cause.

1. Hall KD et al, Ultra-Processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: an inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake. Cell Metab. 2019 May 16. pii: S1550-4131(19)30248-7.   And see our blog on this paper

2. Srour B et al, Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective cohort study (NutriNet-Santé), BMJ 2019;2019;365:l1451.In this large French study, higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with higher risks of cardiovascular, coronary heart, and cerebrovascular diseases.

3. Rico-Campà, A et al, Association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and all cause mortality: SUN prospective cohort study, BMJ 2019;365:l1949 In this large Spanish study, a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods (>4 servings daily) was independently associated with a 62% relatively increased hazard for all cause mortality. For each additional serving of ultra-processed food, all cause mortality increased by 18%.
Lawrence M and Baker P, Ultra-processed food and adverse health outcomes, BMJ 2019;365:l2289

The studies above prompted leading Australian health researchers to recommend a change in eating habits as is already happening in some countries:

 “… public health authorities in several countries (France and Brazil) have recently started to promote unprocessed or minimally processed foods and to recommend limiting the consumption of ultra-processed foods.”

More info

A recent survey – Why one in four students with ADHD has been suspended

Blog - Ultra-processed foods linked to obesity 

Factsheet – additive-free school trials

Factsheet ADHD and diet

How to start failsafe eating