Soaring rates of ADHD and the natural solution

According to a new study, 1 in 10 U.S. children is now diagnosed with ADHD. This represents a 22% increase in just the past four years. While some researcher attribute this rise to better screening and diagnosis, John D. Ranseen, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, thinks that this rise in ADHD may speak to broader trends.

"Another very uncomfortable issue is the role of pharmacological companies in all of this since it is very much in their interest to increase the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. The last thing they have any interest in seeing is a drop in the diagnosis and treatment.  One would hope that such findings might give the mental health field pause to wonder and worry about why we are seeing increases in virtually all psychiatric conditions -- autism, depression, ADHD, bipolar in children -- for instance, what does this say about our society?"

Likely factors that may also be contributing to this perceived rise in ADHD symptoms (inability to focus attention, hyperactivity, etc.) could very well include parental stress (now affecting a majority of Americans) and its effect on children (91% of children in a recent study reported that their parent is stressed based on their behavior).  When asked about how they feel when a parent is stressed, children reported feelings of sadness, worry, and frustration.

The effect of social media, texting, and cell phone use among young people should also be examined in relation to ADHD.  A new study recently suggested that excessive texting could be predictive for risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drug use, and sexual activity.  High levels of texting and social networking was also linked to increased stress, depression, suicide, poor sleep, poor academic performance, and parental permissiveness.

Another factor which is seldom mentioned in any articles, research, and commentary about the rise in ADHD, is the fact that a full 40% of the calories consumed by kids 2 to 18 come from junk food.  The top five sources of calories in this age group were soda, sugary fruit drinks, pizza, cakes/cookies, and dairy desserts like ice cream.  These are foods which are high in calories and full of artificial colors, flavors, and chemical preservatives lack the nutrients necessary for proper brain development and may negatively impact mood and behavior.

The answer to the ADHD phenomenon is not going to be found in a pill bottle.  The prescription of stimulant drugs, which have long-term effects on behavior, the brain, and the body, has risen dramatically in recent years, but the symptoms of ADHD are the result of a deficient lifestyle rather deficient children.  Simple solutions like exposure to green spaces (parks, trees, forests  have had a profound effect on ADHD symptoms), good nutrition (reducing simple carbs, artifical colors, increasing omega-3s, more fruits and vegetables alleviates symptoms of ADHD), and physical exercise (which improves brain function, reduces stress/anxiety, and promotes well-being) are effective ways to keep kids healthy and happy.  And parents, hat's a prescription you can fill.

(Invader Zim is a trademark of Nickelodeon, and its parent company Viacom International)
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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. ADHD in children, is affecting about 3% to 5% of children globally and diagnosed in about 2% to 16% of school aged children.