6 Feb 2011 Special diet helps two-thirds of ADHD children stop medicine.

A restrictive diet for children suffering from ADHD can be so beneficial that many of them can stop taking medicine altogether, according to a Dutch study published in The Lancet yesterday. The research involved 100 children aged four to eight. Fifty of them followed an elimination diet – removing all known problem foods until some of them consumed only rice, turkey, pear, vegetables and water. After five weeks, two-thirds of the children on the special diet no longer had any behavioural problems. There was no difference in the behaviour of the control group on a 'healthy' diet. The children were followed for a year, with foodstuffs being added back into their diet to determine what caused the hyperactive reaction. IgG tests (as recommended by some doctors) were found not to be helpful compared to food challenges.

The researchers found 'considerable effects of a restricted elimination diet ... with equal effects on ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder'. They concluded that 'dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD, provided parents are willing to follow a diagnostic restricted elimination diet for a five-week period, and provided expert supervision is available.' they wrote.

The Few Foods Diet used by the Dutch study is not new but it is the first time it has been trialled on so many children for such a long time.

In 1985, a similar trial of the RPAH Elimination Diet with 140 behaviourally disturbed children found that nearly two thirds (61%) improved significantly and that a suitable diet could usually be devised for each child within three months. We recommend the RPAH Elimination Diet supervised by an experienced and supportive dietitian to members of the Food Intolerance Network because it is equally effective and much easier to use.

See updated Factsheet on diet and ADHD

Further information

Article abstract: http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2962227-1/abstract

Report in Dutch newspaper: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/02/special_diet_helps_twothirds_o.php

RPAH Elimination Diet study