Skip to main content

Elimination diets for ADHD

Published April 2013

Download the full evidence summary: Elimination diets for ADHD

PLEASE NOTE: This summary was produced more than 4 years ago. Information provided may be out of date. If you think it would be helpful to update this summary please contact us at

What were we asked?

A survey of parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) indicated that they were interested in whether eliminating artificial food colourings and additives from their child’s diet might affect symptoms of ADHD.

Key findings

A recent systematic review combined the best available evidence and found that, in the general population of children with ADHD, there is no evidence that elimination diets have a significant beneficial effect.

However, there may be some children who are sensitive to artificial food additives and may respond to avoiding these in their diet.  Restricting the diet of a child will be time-consuming and potentially disruptive to the family, and could also be a barrier to the child being included socially in various settings.

Therefore, there is insufficient evidence for the benefit of these diets to recommend them for all children with ADHD.

Note: This information is produced by PenCRU researchers and reviewed by external experts. The views expressed are those of PenCRU at the University of Exeter Medical School and do not represent the views of the Cerebra charity, or any other parties mentioned. We strongly recommend seeking medical advice before undertaking any treatments/therapies.