Sue's Blog

ADHD in Australia costs $20 billion a year but no mention of diet?


ADHD is costing Australia more than $20 billion a year in productivity losses, disability, crime, accidental deaths or suicide, according to a sobering analysis by Deloitte Access Economics.

  ADHD in Australia

  •    Affects roughly 281,200 children and adolescents, and 533,300 adults
  •    Productivity losses for individuals and families cost more than $10 billion in 2019
  •    Loss of wellbeing was valued at $7.59 billion ($9,300 per person) per year

"There is a huge economic burden that cuts across the whole of society," said Professor David Coghill, vice president of the Australian ADHD Professionals Association, which commissioned the report.

So why was diet virtually ignored in the report? “Dietary modification” was lumped in with unproven alternative therapies but there is sound scientific evidence that

most ADHD behaviours can be hugely improved or eliminated using a diet that avoids certain additives and natural food chemicals

This increase in ADHD-type behaviours due to changes in diet was predicted correctly in research by Dr Ben Feingold 45 years ago and in much research since!

Reader reports

Everyone is different. To find out exactly which food chemicals may be causing problems, we recommend a 3 week trial of the RPAH elimination diet with challenges supervised by a supportive dietitian from our list

This is what our readers say:

We did diet for explosive ADHD symptoms. It made a massive difference … Kat from story [1529]

We had huge results after first 2 weeks of strict elimination. Concentration, focus, calmness. The boy’s dad thought I had sedated him. – Tracy from facebook thread on Does diet work for ADHD? story [1503]

Have had my 4yo boy  on the strict elimination diet for two weeks … he is now calm, listens, is kind, thoughtful, and so so happy – Vivienne from story [1541]

Pre-diet, I was looking for one trigger … Combine (six additives and natural food chemicals)  and you’ve got a stupidly hyperactive kid who runs around like a total fruit loop with not one single care about discipline, boundaries or consequences … - Rhonda from story [1528]

Ten years ago the teachers and doctors wanted to medicate our daughter for ADHD ... Last year she graduated high school with one of the highest scores which guaranteed her entry into top universities. Everyone comments on how polite and engaging she is as a teenager. My advice to those starting the failsafe journey ... hang in there ... the rewards are well worth the effort – D  from full story [1179] and quote from [1480]

As a dietitian who uses the RPAH Allergy Unit Elimination Diet in my everyday practice, I can assure you that it does work brilliantly in the majority of cases, in infants (via mother's breastmilk), in children and in adults as well. However, it needs to be done properly ... The diet should be supervised by an Accredited Practising Dietitian with experience in food-chemical intolerances and conducted as a test diet, for a limited period of time - usually only 3-4 weeks in duration. Occasionally it may go longer, but the dietitian ensures that nutrients are adequately compensated for. The challenges are then performed in a timely manner and the diet refined to be liberalised as much as possible, while only avoiding the problem foods long term. I have many, many satisfied clients who were fobbed off by other health professionals in the past, because they didn't 'believe' in food-chemical intolerance - a letter from Joy Anderson APD, author of Food sensitive babies from Medical Journal of Australia InSight, June 2013

More reading

Sydney Morning Herald summary

The Deloitte report (53 pages pdf)

A recent survey found that a quarter of students with ADHD have been suspended for ADHD-type behaviour with more than forty per cent of suspensions occurring in the first three years of primary school...READ MORE

We say the problem is due to additives (and for some children the natural food chemicals salicylates, amines and glutamates) in those junk foods – and some healthy foods - that are avoided in the RPAH elimination diet.  And that is why the diet can work so quickly...READ MORE

Factsheet ADHD and diet

Heaps more reader reports (98 PAGES!) in our ADHD success story collection