A child’s dietary habits may play a crucial role in heightening or reducing their risk of developing attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), suggests a study by researchers at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

In the study, which involved analyzing the eating habits of more than 1,800 adolescents, the nutritionists divided the children into two broad groups. Kids who often consumed processed and fried foods high in saturated fat, total fat and sodium were placed were put under the "Western" diet group. Adolescents who ate a nutrient-rich diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains made up the "healthy" diet group.

Over the course of the study, the researchers found a total of 115 children were diagnosed with ADHD, with the majority of these individuals being boys.

The children who consumed a Western-style diet had double the risk of being diagnosed with the disorder, compared with those that ate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, foliate and fiber, the research team found. While analyzing the data, the researchers have taken also taken into account several risk factors—including social and family influences for the analysis.

"We suggest that a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function," says lead author Wendy Oddy.

However, "it may also be that impulsivity, which is a characteristic of ADHD, leads to poor dietary choices such as quick snacks when hungry," she adds.