Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recess, Not Ritalin, Can Help Kids With ADHD

Imagine a treatment that would help kids deal with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), make them smarter and healthier, and improve their mood.  And best of all, it's free!

Nature And Exercise Can Improve ADHD

It’s called nature. A growing body of research is revealing the positive effects that exercising outdoors can have on kids with ADHD.

From Dr. David L. Katz, writing at

When my colleagues and I  conducted a study of our school-based physical activity program, ABC for Fitness, one of the findings was a 33% reduction in medication use for ADHD! I have long said that rambunctiousness in kids is normal and should be treated with recess, not Ritalin.

Get Active At Least Twice A Week!

Associate Professor Wendy Oddy, of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia,  says that exercise of any sort or duration was protective against ADHD in a recent study that she conducted, provided that children engaged in it at least twice a week. She suggested that if children aren't athletic sorts, they could find other activities that get them active, whether it's riding a bike or simply walking to school.

And Then There's The Question Of Diet


There are studies suggesting that food additives—colorings, flavorings, etc.—are associated with behavioral disorders in young people, and that the substitution of “pure” foods may help alleviate them. In general, the available studies indict highly processed foods and suggest benefits from foods close to nature.
Association Between ADHD And Diet

Oddy's study, published online in the Journal of Attention Disorders suggests that sugar, along with other types of unhealthy processed foods, could have more subtle effects on a child's mental health. The study found an association between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and diet, specifically Western diets that include too many processed meats, full-fat dairy, and unhealthy carbohydrates.

The authors noted that certain foods were also more likely to influence ADHD risk. For instance, kids who had the highest intakes of fast food, sweets, red meat, processed meats, and high-fat dairy products were the most likely to have ADHD, and kids who at a lot of potato chips and drank more soft drinks had an elevated risk as well.

Ritalin May Not Be The Answer

All in all, there are plenty of good reasons to rethink the use of Ritalin to treat kids with ADHD, and replace it with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.


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