Diet or drug? ADHD controversy

FOOD elimination to treat ADHD is usually an approach taken by complementary or alternative practitioners, but now some Australian experts say food elimination has mainstream merit. 

Eminent US paediatrician and allergist Dr Ben Feingold introduced the idea in the 1970s that removing certain foods and additives could improve children’s learning and behaviour. 

He had noticed patients he suspected of being sensitive to aspirin also reacted to some foods and additives.

Now a randomised controlled Dutch study recently published in The Lancet shows an elimination diet is effective in treating children with ADHD.1

At least two Australian ADHD experts say food elimination diets are worth a try, but the study has divided opinion, with other experts dismissing it as poorly designed and invalid.

The study found that 50 children aged 4–8 years showed improvement in ADHD symptoms on a five-week restricted diet of rice