Nutrition and Hyperactivity

Nutrition and Hyperactivity

The purpose of this research is to examine recent findings relative to the role of nutrition in treating hyperactivity. Background information is provided on (1) hyperactivity, (2) therapies (generally) for the condition, (3) earlier findings related to nutritional therapy for hyperactivity, and (4) recent findings refarding nutrition for treating hyperactivity.


Hyperactivity, also known as hyperkinesis, refers most commonly to manifestations of disturbed child behavior (Hinsie, & Campbell, 1980). The hyperactive child (1) performs movements and actions at a higher than normal rate of speed, (2) is constantly restless and in motion, or (3) may exhibit aspects of each of these characteristics (Hinsie, & Campbell, 1980).

The disorder is characterized by overactivity, restlessness, distractibility, and short attention span (Freedman, Kaplan, & Sadock, 1982). Oversensitivity to stimulation makes it impossible for the hyperactive child to attend to more than one stimulus at a time; however, the child is also unable to reject a stimulus (Freedman, Kaplan, & Sadock, 1982). Thus, unable to attend a stimulus long enough to integrate it, the hyperactive child continually returns to the stimulus as if it were new (Freedman, Kaplan, & Sadock, 1982). As an overreaction to a stimuli on an emotional level is not unusual under such conditions, the hyperactive child is frequently labile, impulsive, and accidentprone (Freedman, Kaplan, & Sadock, 1982). Hyperactivity may vary as to source, and relationship to other conditions. These sources and relationships may be both physiologic and psychiatric in character.

Hyperactivity may be physiologic, and, thus, not associated with any other pathology (Chess, 1960). It may also derive from organic brain damage (Chess, 1960). In this context, the hyperactive child typically exhibits such symptoms as educational deficits, short at.tention span, perceptual difficulties, preservative tendencies, and sleep...

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