Healthy Lifestyles Can Avoid ADHD Development in Children

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Recently, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta and Dalhousie University looks at the association between the risk for ADHD development also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the quality of lifestyles in children and concludes that earlier interventions can significantly lower the chances.

More specifically, the researchers found that following at least seven or nine of the recommended healthy habits for children led to a fifty-three percent lower risk of being diagnosed with ADHD development.

These habits included eating a more healthy and balanced diet, engaging in activities and games that encourage physical movement, as well as spending less time in front of screens such as televisions and phones.

On the other hand, children who followed only two to three of the total recommendations were at a much higher risk of developing and being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The addition of a healthy habit in the daily led to an eighteen percent drop in the chances of having the disorder.
The professor and director of the Population Health Intervention Research Unit in the U of A’s School of Public Health, Paul Veugelers stated that lifestyle habits such as getting an appropriate amount of sleep, having a healthy diet, and spending less time in front of screens are generally viewed as changes that are required to be made in order to have better overall physical health.

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The findings of the new research show that the benefits of following such recommendations are not limited to physical health but can also improve mental health to a significant extent and reduce the risk of disorders such as ADHD.

Statistically, around seven percent of the children around the world are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The problem can generally be difficult to manage as it affects the overall behavior of the child as well as the ability to learn and performs tasks along with school performance.

Therefore, studies on the disorder and how to reduce the likelihood of its development are needed in order to avoid it in the first place.

For the new investigation, the researchers sourced data from the Children’s Lifestyle and School-performance Study (CLASS) that included around five thousand children, all of whom were in grade five and recruited in the Nova Scotia schools.

After the collection of data, the changes in the children’s behavior and health status were examined by the researchers in follow-up for around seven years. The findings of the study appear in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

The lifestyle and compliance to the official guidelines of the children were looked at by comparing the children’s habits to instructions from different health authorities including World Health Organization, Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, Dietary Guidelines for American Adults and Children, and Canada’s Food Guide.

After doing so, the researchers discovered that only twenty-one percent of the total participating children followed more than seven out of the nine instructions for healthier lifestyles. On average, most children only followed five to six of the guidelines.

The link between the following recommendations and lower risk of ADHD was also found, which also remained regardless of the children’s gender, weight, and other factors. However, it was noted that children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and parents with only secondary education were not likely to follow the guidelines.

According to Veugelers, there have been many studies to understand the cause of ADHD development but research has never been able to identify a single contributor to the disorder. This investigation shows lifestyles, in general, can play a fundamental role and changes can successfully prevent ADHD development.

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Abeera I. Kazmi

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