Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ho Hum! Scientists find link between ADHD and fatty and processed foods

Good to see skepticism about the direction of causation in the second sentence. A great relief from the usual epidemiological dogmatism. I think I need say no more about the other Oddities in the research concerned

A DIET high in takeaway foods, processed meats, soft drink and fat has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in teenagers. But researchers are unsure whether a poor diet leads to ADHD or whether the disorder causes cravings and poor dietary choices.

Researchers from Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research examined the dietary patterns of almost 1800 14-year-olds, including 115 diagnosed with ADHD.

They classified the teenagers' diets into either "healthy", encompassing those high in fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and fish, or "Western-style", those dominated by takeaways, processed meats, high-fat dairy products and confectionary.

Nutritionist Wendy Oddy said the researchers found that having the Western-style diet, which tended to be higher in saturated fat, refined sugar and salt, was associated with more than double the risk of having an ADHD diagnosis.

Associate Professor Oddy said the findings suggested that those on the Western-style diet had lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids, important for optimal brain function and mental health. "It . . . may be that the Western dietary pattern doesn't provide enough essential micronutrients that are needed for brain function, particularly attention and concentration, or that a Western diet might contain more colours, flavours and additives that have been linked to an increase in ADHD," she said.

"It may also be that impulsivity, which is a characteristic of ADHD, leads to poor dietary choices such as quick snacks when hungry."

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder among Australian children, with a prevalence of about 5 per cent. The disorder is more common in boys.

The study's findings have been published online in the Journal of Attention Disorders. Professor Oddy said more research was needed.


Motherly love 'does breed confidence'

It is normal and healthy for mothers to love their children and treat them afectionately. So I suspect that the finding below boils down to a demonstration that normal and healthy mothers have normal and healthy children -- which is not much of a revelation and is as well explained by genetics as anything else. Most personality traits have strong genetic transmissability

Being lavished with affection by your mum as a young child makes you better able to cope with the stresses and strains of adult life, say researchers. Hugs, kisses and expressive declarations of love appear to rub off and foster emotional resilience.

The results are from nearly 500 people, from the US state of Rhode Island, who were studied as children and adults. A secure mother-child bond may be key, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reports.

But experts say it is important to know when to stop. Over-mothering can be intrusive and embarrassing, especially as children grow older.

High levels of motherly affection are likely to facilitate secure attachments and bonding, say the study authors, led by Dr Joanna Maselko. This not only lowers distress but may also help a child to develop effective life, social, and coping skills, which will stand them in good stead as adults.

In the study, a psychologist rated the quality of interactions between the mothers and their eight-month-old children during a routine developmental check-up.

The psychologist judged how well the mother responded to her child's emotions and needs, and gave her an "affection score" based on the warmth of the interaction.

Thirty years later, the researchers approached the children, who were now adults, and asked them to take part in a survey about their well-being and emotions. The group was also asked whether they thought their mothers had been affectionate towards them, with responses ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree".

The results revealed that children whose mothers gave them lots of affection handled all types of distress better. In particular, the children of warm mothers were far better at dealing with anxiety than those of emotionally cold mothers.

The researchers said: "It is striking that a brief observation of level of maternal warmth in infancy is associated with distress in adult offspring 30 years later."

They said the findings added to the growing evidence that early childhood helped set the stage for later life experiences, but said the influence of other factors, such as personality, upbringing and schooling, could not be ruled out.


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