ADHD Diagnosis in the UK and USA

Factoid Answer

Compared with a teenager in the United Kingdom, a teenager in the United States is about how likely to be diagnosed with ADHD?

  • About 14 times as likely

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released figures on the proportion of American children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Looking across the entire United States, nearly 20% of American boys 14 to 17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD, and 10% of American girls in the same age group. That means that among high school kids in the United States, 15% have now been diagnosed with ADHD. The CDC estimates that 69% of American kids who are diagnosed with ADHD are also on medication for ADHD. If we multiply 15% by 69% we get 10.3%. That means that about 103 out of every 1,000 American teenagers either are now taking, or have taken, taking medications for ADHD.

ADHD chart

British researchers recently released comparable data from a national survey of 3,529,615 individuals across the United Kingdom. They found that among teenagers in the United Kingdom, about 7 in 1,000 (7.4, to be precise) are now taking, or have taken, medications for ADHD.

Let’s compare. In the United States, about 103 teenagers out of every 1,000 are now taking, or have taken, medication for ADHD. In the United Kingdom, the figure is 7.4 teenagers out of every 1,000. Comparing the United States with the United Kingdom, the odds ratio is:

103 / 7.4 = 13.9

In other words, the likelihood of being treated with medication for ADHD is nearly fourteen times higher for teenagers in the United States compared with teens in the UK.

For more context on this point, please see chapter 3 of my book The Collapse of  Parenting: Why most kids today would be better off raised outside the United States // What you need to know, and the three things you must do, if you’re staying here (to be published later this year by Basic Books). Or you could attend my presentation titled “The Medicalization of Misbehavior” or my workshop “Evaluation of the child who is not paying attention


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