The Standard American Diet (aptly named SAD), also known as the Western diet, is full of processed and fried foods, refined carbohydrates and sugars, and saturated and trans fats. It is low in fiber, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and beneficial fats (like omega-3s).

This diet has been blamed (and rightfully so) for so many different health conditions, most notably, heart disease and diabetes. But cheer up! A change in diet and increase in exercise can reverse both these conditions. 

Another recent study links another condition to SAD. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHC, or as it used to be known ADD) is one of the most common childhood disorders, and may continue into adulthood. It involves difficulty staying focused, difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity. In adolescents, consumption of a Standard American Diet was found to more than double the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD when compared to a diet low in the foods found in the SAD diet.

The suggested reasons for this difference were:

  • SAD diet has a less optimal fatty acid profile (too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3)
  • SAD diet may not provide essential micronutrients needed for brain function
  • SAD diet contains more artificial colors, flavors and additives linked to ADHD symptoms

More studies need to be done to figure out which came first, but I simply can’t wait that long to get the word out about how detrimental the SAD diet is to our children’s health. I know that children and adolescents are picky eaters, but it is essential that they get all the nutrients they need for the best start in life – one that will carry them through the years. The earlier they begin eating well, the more likely they will eat that way for life.

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