Implication of saturated fats in the aetiology of childhood attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder – A narrative review

Hugo A.E. Morandini, Prue Watson, Richard M. Stewart, Janice W.Y. Wong, Pradeep Rao, Florian D. Zepf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common mental health disorder in the paediatric population. ADHD is highly comorbid with obesity, and has also been associated with poor dietary patterns such as increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. Although ADHD in children was associated with high consumption of saturated fats, so far there has been no evidence-based attempt to integrate dietary strategies controlling for intake of saturated fats into the etiological framework of the disorder. Evidence from human studies and animal models has shown that diets high in saturated fats are detrimental for the development of dopaminergic neurocircuitries, synthesis of neurofactors (e.g. brain derived neurotrophic factor) and may promote brain inflammatory processes. Notably, animal models provide evidence that early life consumption of a high saturated fats diet may impair the development of central dopamine pathways. In the present paper, we review the impact of high saturated fats diets on neurobiological processes in human studies and animal models, and how these associations may be relevant to the neuropathophysiology of ADHD in children. The validation of this relationship and its underlying mechanisms through future investigative studies could have implications for the prevention or exacerbation of ADHD symptoms, improve the understanding of the pathogenesis of the disorder, and help design future dietary studies in patients with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Nutrition ESPEN
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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