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Friday, April 5, 2013

Taking aim and ADD rates and diet

Image from Flickr, by leesean
Recent information showed that 20 percent of American boys have ADD or ADHD.  This number is somewhat staggering when you realize that one in five boys in this country have an issue with Attention Deficit Disorder.  To me, it's not a big deal.  I wasn't shocked at all when I found out my son was one of those.

I've been diagnosed with ADHD since I was about six.

The Diet Doctor, who has some really great stuff, had some interesting things to say.  He compared maps of obesity and other dietary no-no's with the map of where ADD diagnosis were the highest.  The implication is that diet is the root of this particular evil.

But is it?

First, we need to understand what ADD/ADHD really is.  Honestly, I think it's craptastic name for the condition.  The problem isn't paying attention per se.  I can pay attention to all kinds of things.  My son can too.  The problem is those things we pay attention to can drown out everything else going on around us.

Instead of being a lack of ability to pay attention, it's really more of an impulse control issue.  We can't override some impulses - which is why that one ADD kid in school gets up in the middle of class to go look out the window - while some things completely drown out all other impulses (like someone calling your name while you play a video game).

As such, I have to question the implication Dr. Eenfeldt makes.

Yes, the maps look similar.  Unfortunately, we have a chicken/egg argument.  Did the diet cause the ADD in these boys? I'm not so sure.

You see, with the impulse control issues that exist within the ADD/ADHD mind, it's also extremely possible that obesity is a side effect of the ADD/ADHD itself, rather than it simply being a case of co-morbidity.  After all, an impulse to get a candy bar can be to difficult to override in an ADD/ADHD mind than that of someone not affected with the condition.

I'm sure Dr. Eenfeldt isn't trying to say definitively that diet causes ADD/ADHD.  After all, if it did, then my symptoms would be alleviated now that I'm eating healthy, wholesome, and real foods.  They're not unfortunately, though I hear many others say that they are.  As a doctor, Dr. Eenfeldt probably knows the issues with epidemiological studies and how they exclusively use corollary data to draw conclusions that often are way off base.

Of course, I'm also only offering up a hypothesis based on what I've experienced with this condition.  I would be extremely interested in further study on these correlations and how they may possible be tied together.  Honestly, anything that could lead us to a better understanding behind ADD/ADHD has got to be a good thing and something desperately needed.

But that might just be the impulsive me talking here.

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