Dr Lidy Pelsser, senior researcher at the ADHD Research Centre in The Netherlands, spoke at the Nordic Psychiatry Academy ADHD Congress in Copenhagen (11 November 2011) about the impact of food on ADHD. She highlighted the research results of all studies focussing on the impact of a restricted elimination diet (RED) on children with ADHD, i.e. 5 double blind placebo controlled studies and 3 open RCTs.
All studies showed statistically significant and clinically relevant effects of an RED on the children’s behaviour, with an average effect size of 1.2 (0.6 – 1.8). For comparison: the effect size of methylphenidate, the most frequently used medication in children with ADHD, is 0.6 – 0.9. The most recent research results of an open study with blinded measurements have been published in The Lancet, in February 2011, and have shown that the majority of children with ADHD whose parents are motivated to follow an RED, responded favourably to the RED. According to the parents’, the teacher’s, and the blinded paediatrician’s measurements, the behavioural problems of these children, ADHD as well as ODD, disappeared completely. These results confirm the findings of all previous RED studies.
Implementation of RED research in children with ADHD is timely and recommended, and may lead to prevention of ADHD in 60% of children suffering from this disorder. Consequently the children’s perspectives and expectations for the future may improve considerably and the use of medication may decrease concurrently. A poll of the 500 psychiatrists and paediatricians attending the congress resulted in the majority voting for implementation of RED research in children with ADHD in daily practice and for incorporation of RED research in the DSM-V. Here you may find a summary of the lecture including the poll results (PDF).