Utah Stories

ADD/ADHD Diagnoses in Utah Keep Increasing

The drugs that doctors use to treat ADHD are not nearly as effective as improving nutrition that focuses on gut health.


Nutrition is a Much Bigger Factor Than Most Doctors & Parents Realize

Dr. Mark Cannon, a researcher for Northwestern University and a leading researcher in pediatric dentistry, says that kids are being overdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD and overmedicated as a result. Stimulants can cause side effects similar to those found in meth addicts, and he is seeing more children that essentially have “meth mouth.” Cannon adds that the drugs that doctors use to treat the disorders are not nearly as effective as a long-term treatment than improving nutrition that focuses on gut health. “Effective gut health begins in the mouth,” he says.

Cannon visited the Utah Stories show to talk about the huge importance of nutrition. He is in Utah to share with other nurses, doctors and dentists so they can understand that altering children’s diets can have a significant impact on improving attention and outcomes even far better than the use of medications. This is due to the fact that most doctors and parents don’t realize that 90% of brain chemistry is manufactured in the gut.

Cannon pointed out that when children diagnosed with ADHD are examined, many of them are actually suffering from sleep disorders. He adds that the reason why stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are effective is because they keep the kids in better moods who are, in fact, suffering from a lack of sleep. 

Why are kids suffering from sleep disorders? Many have inflamed tonsils or adenoids. Why? Because foods high in preservatives, high in sugar, and high in GMOs cause inflammation in the tonsils. Kids with inflamed tonsils don’t get enough sleep and have a difficult time concentrating in school. Rather than fixing the problem with improved nutrition, Cannon says that most pediatricians have received less than one hour of instruction in nutrition, and are simply unaware that the cause of the problems are nutrition based, so they prescribe amphetamine treatments instead.

ADD/ADHD are impacting children in the United States at unprecedented levels. Today, according to the CDC, 13% of boys (six million children) and 6% of girls between the ages of 12-17 years, are diagnosed with ADD. Many of these young adults are receiving stimulant medications such as Ritalin and/or Adderall. These stimulants can become very addictive and can cause greater issues leading into young adulthood.

Just twenty years ago, ADD diagnoses were half as common as they are today. Utah kids are not immune. Currently, around 4% of boys in Utah are taking prescription drugs to treat ADD and ADHD. Cannon believes that far fewer kids could be on medication and that the disorders are completely preventable and are far easier and cheaper to treat than major medical providers will admit. 

What should kids eat who are suffering from ADD/ADHD?

First and foremost, parents need to be educated on what is good and what is bad for kids. 

“Potato chips are not a vegetable!” Cannon declares.“Fruit snacks are not fruit!”

Kids should be consuming whole fruits and vegetables: apples, carrots, oranges, grapes, nuts. Anything that is processed likely has preservatives which cause inflammation of the tonsils and are bad for gut health. Furthermore, Cannon says most kids are malnourished because parents are taking shortcuts on providing the staple foods that lead to good nutrition. Returning back to the airway, Cannon says that many kids who suffer from obesity are suffering from poor sleep due to their diets:

“You can predict if a kid is going to be obese based on examining their airway. The airway is also related to large tonsils and adenoids; that is also diet related. The very same foods, high in sugar and preservatives, will also be the ones to cause you to gain weight.”

Cannon has discovered an interesting phenomenon from his research into nutrition and outcomes in children. He says he has found an interesting cost savings from examining thirty kids who have parents who provide diets consisting of grass-fed beef, fresh fruits and vegetables, home-cooked meals, and whole foods without preservatives. While these parents’ grocery bills were higher than parents who fed their children processed foods, their overall spending on their kids, when medications and doctor visits are included, is actually far less.

Canon says, “You know what is funny? I mention those 30 healthy kids, and every parent had a rule; they eat non-GMO Foods, pasture-raised beef, but at the end of the day, their costs were less.”

Cannon adds that eating a poor diet leads not only to obesity, ADD/ADHD and prediabetes, but it’s costing parents and society as a whole a lot more than preventive care and good nutrition ever would.

Why Not Emphasize Preventive Care?

Discussing America’s “HealthCare System”, Dr. Cannon and I agree that the U.S. isn’t offering “Health Care”; it’s offering a “sick care system.” We are largely feeding our children and ourselves unhealthy food, and as a result, the pharmaceutical industry is more than willing to provide drugs to counteract the negative side effects of poor nutrition.

The “health care” required for most Americans, and the subsequent costs to pay for this care, is a direct result of the fact that Americans eat far worse than many other nations around the world, including many second- and third-world nations. 

Dr. Cannon would like to propose that the U.S. CDC (Center For Disease Control), the United States Department for Health and Human Services and the Surgeon General, emphasize preventive health care based on improving nutrition and diets for children in school. Cannon believes that Utah could be a leader in this area if our Utah State Legislature would adopt policies and legislation providing children with better food choices in schools, including prebiotics and probiotics. He points out that Xylitol could have immediate health benefits.

Could School Lunches and Food Offerings in Public Schools Ever be Improved?

The difficulty in improving nutrition for children in public schools is that kids are picky eaters; they prefer corn dogs, processed chicken, processed pizza, etc. Also, school lunch programs are often determined at district levels in which they must partner with huge food distributors such as Sysco Foods to ensure that logistical challenges are overcome. 

Furthermore, it is unlikely that the politicians who very often receive campaign contributions from big corporations such as Sisco, and drugmakers such as Pfizer, which makes ADD/ADHD medications, will be inclined to “bite the hand that feeds them.” 

Even bureaucrats at the CDC, such as former CDC Director Anthony Fauci, are reportedly receiving royalties from big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer. These facts were discovered in recent Senate hearings when Senator Rand Paul was grilling CDC Director Anthony Fauci over disclosing the royalty payments he received from Pfizer. Fauci would not offer any details related to these payments. Royalties, campaign contributions, and direct-to-consumer advertising all lead to America’s health care (sick care) system being largely controlled by pharmaceutical companies.

Could We Ever Divest Our Healthcare From Big Pharma?

Utah Stories has been examining this issue for nearly fifteen years. The short answer is that some efforts are being made such as allowing naturopathic medicine and alternative or holistic therapies to be allowed into mainstream medicine. But few clinical trials are conducted on non-pharmaceutical treatments, and little research is conducted in the United States that doesn’t involve big pharmaceutical companies or the largest medical providers.

Read some of our previous stories about this topic including interviews on our podcast with leading experts on how we can maintain health and wellness using more simple and effective remedies, with fewer side effects than the drugs and pills that can very often lead to overall negative outcomes. 

Do not take this article as offering actual medical advice. Always seek and talk to your doctor concerning the best medical advice and to devise your own individual health plan.

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