Background Research has shown a direct relationship between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). However, no study to date has investigated relationships
between ADHD and dietary n-3 PUFA intake
Objectives To assess dietary PUFA intakes in children with ADHD, to compare these intakes to the previously
published estimates of childrens PUFA intake using the data from the Australian National Nutrition Survey (NNS),
and to determine if there is a relationship between dietary n-3 PUFA intakes and ADHD symptoms.
Design Eighty six three-day weighed food records were collected from children with ADHD. Their dietary PUFA
intakes were analysed using FoodWorks nutrient analysis software package. Results were compared to the
previously published estimates of childrens PUFA intake from the NNS and correlations between dietary PUFA
intakes and ADHD symptoms were investigated.
Outcomes The average (median) daily intakes of fatty acids (mg/d) are: linoleic (LA), 8425 (7745); arachidonic
(AA), 67 (55); total n-6, 8492 (7801), alpha-linolenic (ALA), 1188 (1023), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), 30 (10),
docosapentaenoic (DPA), 31 (19), docosahexaenoic (DHA), 39 (17), long chain (LC) n-3 (addition of EPA, DPA
and DHA), 95 (68) and total n-3, 1282 (1133). The mean daily intake of LA, total n-6 and DHA were significantly
lower when compared to the NNS (P<0.05). Despite lower DHA intakes, no significant correlations were found
between any fatty acids and ADHD symptoms. However, children with ADHD consumed significantly less
fish/seafood, meat and eggs when compared to the NNS.
Conclusion Children with ADHD consume less DHA, fish/seafood, meat and eggs than the NNS. Hence, these
children are encouraged to increase their consumption of LC n-3 PUFA containing foods.