ADHD Children More Likely to Live Unhealthy Lifestyles

New study sheds light on improving symptoms

A recent study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders [1] looked at the health recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Their recommendations include:

*Drinking more water
*Decrease consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks
*Exercise at least an hour
*Limited screen time to a maximum of one to two hours daily (laptops, phones, tablets, TV)
*Get 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night

The study examined a group of 184 children ages 7 to 11 with ADHD and compared them to a group of 104 children who did not have ADHD. Children with ADHD were reported to adhere to fewer of these recommendations, regardless of taking medication for their ADHD. That means that the ADHD children in the study ADHD drank less water, drank more sweetened beverages, spent more time in front of a screen, engaged in less physical activity, consumed fewer vitamins, read less, and slept less than the participants without ADHD. These behavioral patterns were exhibited regardless of whether the ADHD children were taking medication for their ADHD. Unhealthy lifestyles have been shown to exacerbate ADHD symptoms or be correlated thereto.

The lead author of the research, Dr. Kathleen Holton, contends that, Having their children follow healthy lifestyle behaviors may be an effective intervention either alongside or in the place of traditional ADHD medications. Parents of children with ADHD should talk with their pediatrician about how to improve health behaviors, such as limiting screen time, encouraging physical activity, improving bedtime routines, and drinking water rather than other beverages.

[1] Kathleen F. Holton, Joel Nigg. The Association of Lifestyle Factors and ADHD in Children. Journal of Attention Disorders, April 28 2016; Online. DOI: .1177/1087054716646452