Food insecurity is a major public health concern characterized by an individual or household lacking access to adequate food to support a healthy lifestyle. Food insecurity has been associated with predisposing or exacerbating mental health symptoms in children. However, the evidence is scarce with regards to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children. The purpose of this review is to summarize and identify gaps in the existing literature, as well as to explore associations between food insecurity and symptoms of childhood ADHD. Literature for this review was pulled from Ovid MEDLINE and PubMed library databases, with a focus on food insecurity, food insufficiency, hunger, and ADHD symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in children. The limited evidence to date shows a predictive and inverse relationship between childhood experience of food insecurity and symptoms of ADHD, with lasting impacts into adulthood. Evidence exists to hypothesize that childhood food insecurity is associated with predisposing or exacerbating ADHD symptoms in children, yet the literature needed to confirm this relationship is scarce and utilizes inconsistent methodology. Future research is needed to further characterize this complex relationship and inspire community or public health interventions addressing food insecurity in children with ADHD. Additionally, it may be clinically useful to routinely screen for food insecurity when assessing pediatric ADHD symptoms.
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