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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Review

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While ADHD may be on the rise and researchers can’t quite understand why, there has been documented correlation between ADHD and the foods we consume. Diet can play a role in ADHD. The diagnosis of ADHD has become more prevalent in our society. Children are being diagnosed now more than ever. Foods contain more additives and preservatives that do not belong in our food. Food dyes/ artificial food colors in particular are worrisome. Food dyes are placed in our foods to market the distributor and so that the color attracts attention to the consumer. The amount of food dyes used in our foods today has increased drastically over the last few decades.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as ADHD) is usually diagnosed during the adolescent years. However more recently it has been seen in during the adult years. ADHD may affect one’s behavior, cognitive skills, and even mood. ADHD is broken down into two components. These include hyperactivity and inattention. Symptoms include aggression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, irritability, absent-mindedness, trouble focusing, brain-fogginess, short attention span, anxiety, and mood swings. In some cases, ADHD is responsible for a learning disability and depression. ADHD is noted in the classroom among children due to the inability to remain seated and the lack of paying attention. These symptoms can affect the ability to learn and academic performance. Although it is likely to be noted in the classroom, it must be diagnosed by a clinician and be seen in two different settings. “Children must have at least six symptoms from either (or both) the inattention group of criteria and the hyperactivity and impulsivity criteria, whereas older adolescents and adults (over the age of 17 years) must present with five. Most symptoms should have been present before the age of 12 years.” (Shinabarger, 2014) Unlike other disorders ADHD does not affect life expectancy and a person can live a functional life with the disorder.

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Researchers preformed a study in an urban town in Morocco to confirm is there is any correlation between food additives and hyperactivity in children. The study included 239 students from an urban public school. The youngest participant was 6 and the oldest was 16 years old. Information needed from the participants was nutrition habits and economic status. The DSM-IV was used in order to evaluate ADHD. Researchers allowed the children to consume cookies and soft drinks from the near by markets. These items were used to determine if the food additives caused hyper activity. The results showed that there was a correlation between ADHD and food additives. “Indeed, a significant correlation between this disorder and the food additives contained in cookies and soft drinks bought from the local markets (p<0.05, p<0.01 respectively) is registered. The hyperactivity disorder founded among these children appeared in connection with food additive contained in cookies and soft drinks bought from the local markets of the child…” This shows a large percent in the population shows signs of hyperactivity. (Rouim, 2015)

Today, food coloring added into foods is considered a norm. “It is estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 different agents are presently used as food additives.”(Kanarek, 2011) Prior to using the dozens of food additives, people have used different spices/herbs to help with the taste of food, salt was use to protect meat, sugar on the fruits, and natural pigmentation for the colors of our foods. Although additives are used to help to maintain the shelf life of food, some are used solely for cosmetic reasons. Food coloring helps maintain natural color loss due to the climate (air, sunlight, moisture, weather etc.) It is also used to make food look more attractive for marketing purposes. For example, if Trix cereal was gray and not colorful, children would not be interested in eating the cereal. Synthetic dyes are used because it is economically the better choice. The FDA has approved 9 dyes in the USA. Synthetic dyes are used in our snacks and cereals etc.

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