BACKGROUND: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent psychiatric conditions in childhood. Dietary changes have been suggested as a way of reducing ADHD symptoms.
AIMS: To provide an overview of the evidence available on dietary interventions in children with ADHD, a systematic review was carried out of all dietary intervention studies in children with ADHD.
METHODS: Relevant databases were searched in October 2011, with an update search in March 2013. The studies included describe diet interventions in children with ADHD or equivalent diagnoses measuring possible changes in core ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
RESULTS: A total of 52 studies were identified, some investigating whether ADHD symptoms can improve by avoiding certain food elements (20 studies), and some whether certain food elements may reduce ADHD symptoms (32 studies).
CONCLUSION: Elimination diets and fish oil supplementation seem to be the most promising dietary interventions for a reduction in ADHD symptoms in children. However, the studies on both treatments have shortcomings, and more thorough investigations will be necessary to decide whether they are recommendable as part of ADHD treatment.