I came across an interesting statistic as it relates to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) in France as compared to the USA. According to these stats, the percentage of school children with ADHD in each of these countries varies wildly:
- 9% in US of A
- 0.5% in France
ADHD, according to the DSM-3 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is hyperactivity (WebMD, 2015) in children ages 6 to 12 in which they show the following traits:
- Inability to sit still
- Act inappropriately in public settings
- Inability to focus on doing one task at a time
Children who grow up to be adults often suffer from ADHD, as there is no cure, only medication, counselling and treatment. Many become impulsive adults, often very boisterous and easily angered.
They may have a habit of making impulsive decisions and coming to conclusion based on flimsy evidence. They often have a difficult time sticking with one job and may even have a habit of travelling often. Many may become womanizers, having difficulty being satisfied with just one partner.
This is the future that awaits the ADHD child; one where their lives are lived on a whim.
So assuming that children are the same the world over, why does France have such a low incidence of ADHD than America?
French CFTMEA vs American DSM-3 – Psychotherapy or family counselling preferred to Pharmaceuticals
The truth be told, the view of ADHD differs among child psychologists in the USA and France.
In the USA, child psychiatrists treat ADHD with drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, as according to DSM-3, ADHD is a biological disorder with biological causes. The French, on the other hand, use psychotherapy or family counselling as according to their CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent), ADHD is a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes.
According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed CFTMEA in resistance to the influence of DSM-3. This is because DSM-3 merely recommends medication, instead of seeking underlying social and psychological causes for the problems that the children are facing, which are usually due to their adjustment to the changes cause by puberty.
CFTMEA, developed in 1983, and updated in 1988 and 2000, does not have as broad a definition of ADHD as the Americans DSM-3, which often sees normal childhood behaviour during puberty as being an indication of an illness.
DSM-3 does not list possible underlying social and psychological causes of ADHD. It’s merely a handbook to prescribe medication for any behaviour that it judges as being out of an accepted norm.
The testosterone-fuelled (Nicholson, 2009) teenagers may merely be acting out due to the stresses of dealing with the change of puberty as well as their aggressive peers, community, parents at home (Tremblay, Schaal, Boulerice, Arseneault, Soussignan, Paquette, Laurant, 1998) at the same time.
Thus under the French system, fewer children have been diagnosed with ADHD than under the American system, because many of them do not have ADHD. In fact, the way in which the French raise their children, as explained in Pamela Druckerman recent book, Bringing up Bébé (Zeveloff, 2016, June 13), suggests why the way in which French children are raised may also explain why so many of them are not diagnosed with ADHD.
In fact, parents do not give their children as much freedom and are not obsessive over everything they do, giving them a high level of autonomy. They also raise their kids so that they are more patient and are taught to work hard for what they want instead of expecting handouts from people in authority.
Those that are diagnosed are given psychotherapy or family counselling. Additionally, the French look for underlying psychological and social causes of the child’s behaviour. One such consideration is the recommendation that children not allowed to eat foods that contain foods with food additives i.e. artificial colors, certain preservatives and/or allergens.
French CFTMEA considers Foods as Chemicals – How Sugars and Food Additives may be causing ADHD
This as the French believe that diet can be used to control childhood behaviour, especially as many of these food additives i.e. artificial colors, certain preservatives and/or allergens, being added in excess to make food taste better, may be having a detrimental effect on young children.
After all, albeit all foods, natural or GM (Genetically Modified) are chemicals, technically speaking, food additives are chemicals added to enhance foods taste and appearance.
For that reason, they are in excess when added to food and may have unseen effects on the brain chemistry of babies, young children and even older adults. Sweetners, such a sugar as well as food additives, in excess, can thus be considered a drug to which children can become addicted.
One of the most addictive foods, which enhances the taste of Food, is sugar. In excess, sugar and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are known to cause obesity, cancer and even Alzheimer’s Disease (Deer, 2015, May 3) due to the building up of amyloid-β plaques in the brain.
The DSM-3 forces American psychologists to focus on pharmaceutical treatments instead of the possibility that food additives may be the cause of ADHD. Then again, the pharmaceutical industry and the Food and Beverage industry are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), suggesting that they may prone to the influence of special interest groups in both industries to make sure their business that thrive.
To this end, the DSM-3 may have been deliberately written to make sure American psychiatrist prescribe drugs for ADHD to keep the Pharmaceutical industry going and to ignore possible dietary considerations that may be causing ADHD and other psychological disorder in children.
Millennials opposed to Sugar and Food additives – Change for the ADHD over-medicated
However, there is hope for those American kids being diagnosed with ADHD and being over-medicated with Ritalin and Adderall!
In the US of A, the tide is slowly turning against the Food and Beverage Industry and their excessive use of food additives such as sugar. Already among Americans, there is a trend away from consuming beverages that contain excess sugar, creating a market for GraceKennedy Juices such as Aloe Vera (Deer, 2016, January 3) to enter the American Market.
So perhaps in time, a similar shift away from the prescription of pharmaceuticals for ADHD and a move towards psychotherapy or family counselling may soon be coming…….
- Tremblay R.E., Schaal B., Boulerice B., Arseneault L., Soussignan R.G., Paquette D., Laurant D. (1998). Testosterone, physical aggression, dominance, and physical development in early adolescence. Int J Behav Dev 22:753–777.
- WebMd. (2015). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Topic Overview. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/tc/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd-topic-overview
- Nicholson, C. (2009, December 6). Testosterone Promotes Aggression Automatically. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/testosterone-promotes-agression-aut-12-06-09/
- Deer, L. (2015, May 3). University of Queensland’s Ultrasound reversal of Alzheimer’s – Neurotoxic amyloid-β plaques Removal with MicroBubbles. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2015/05/University-Queensland-Ultrasound-Alzheimer-amyloid-plaques-MicroBubbles.html
- Deer, L., (2016, January 3). How Gracekennedy Aloe Vera sinkle Bibles the Americans Health Food market in 2016. Retrieved from https://lindsworthdeer.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/gracekennedy-aloe-vera-american-health-drinks/
- Zeveloff, J. (2016, June 13). French parenting tricks. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/french-parenting-tricks-2016-6