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Pay Attention! Processed Foods May Lead To ADHD, Study Shows

A new study published this week in the Journal of Attention Disorders found an association between "Western-style" diets and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens.

The study, conducted by the Perth (Australia) Telethon Institute for Child Health Research followed the dietary patterns of 1,800 adolescents and whether or not they had been diagnosed with ADHD by the age of 14.

The researchers classified the teens as eating either a "healthy" diet or a "western" diet. The "healthy" group at more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, while those eating a "Western" diet ate more fast food, processed, fried and refined foods.

Associate Professor Wendy Oddy, Leader of Nutrition studies at the Institute, told Science Daily:

When we looked at specific foods, having an ADHD diagnosis was associated with a diet high in takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products and confectionary. We suggest that a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function.

The study did not determine a causal relationship and the researchers noted that more research is needed to determine whether a poor diet could be the cause of ADHD or whether having ADHD might be the cause of choosing a less healthy diet.

Read More: Western Diet Link to ADHD, Australian Study Finds (Science Daily)

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