ADHD Drugs Affect Growth Rates

ADHD Drugs Affect Growth Rates
Obesity? Weight loss? Both?

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that ADHD children treated with stimulant medication initially have slower body mass index (BMI) growth than their untreated peers. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The researchers found that the slow growth of BMI was followed by a rapid rebound of BMI that was greater than that of children with no history of ADHD or stimulant medication use and that could continue to obesity.

The researchers found that the earlier the medication was given coupled with the longer the medication was taken resulted in slower BMI growth in earlier childhood but then the more rapid the BMI rebound in late adolescence, typically after medication was discontinued. Researchers concluded that stimulant use, and not a diagnosis of ADHD, was associated with higher BMI and obesity.

“Our findings should motivate greater attention to the possibility that longer-term stimulant use plays a role in the development of obesity in children,” said study lead, Prof . Brian Schwartz of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Medicine at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Given the dramatic rise in ADHD diagnosis and stimulant treatment in recent decades, this is an interesting avenue of research regarding the childhood obesity epidemic, because the rises in each of these roughly parallel one another.”

Earlier research has noted decreased appetite and weight loss as being associated with stimulant medication use. This is the first comprehensive study to find low BMI rebounding to obesity even after discontinuation of the drug.

Many stimulants used to control ADHD symptoms were once used or initially invented as weight loss drugs.

ADHD & The Fountain of Youth

A recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE reveals how we can all look younger and decrease cognitive deficits like ADHD. The secret:  exercise! That’s probably not what you want to hear, but it makes sense.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University found that "endurance exercises," aerobic exercise like running or cardio kickboxing not only help burn fat, but can also make us look younger and decrease symptoms of cognitive decline.

The team at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine led by
Prof. Dafna Benayahu propose that their data reveal why older people who have exercised throughout their lives age more gracefully.

"When we age, we experience sarcopenia, a decline in mass and function of muscles, and osteopenia referrers to bone loss," says Dr. Benayahu. So without daily exercise, the muscular and skeletal systems weaken and are more susceptible to injury. This may also play a role in the increased likelihood of falling as we age.

The key to staying young seems to lie in stem cells that get activated during endurance exercise. To determine this, Benayahu and her team studied rats. Basically, making the rats exercise actually increased the number of muscle stem cells that typically decrease as we age.

The results were quite compelling when contrasting rats that exercised against sedentary rats:
* The number of youth producing stem cells increased after rats ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day for a 13-week period.
* The younger rats showed a 20% to 35% increase in the average number of stem cells per muscle fiber retained.
* Older rats attained a 33% to 47% increase in stem cells meaning they benefited even more significantly than the younger rats!
* Endurance exercise prompted the older rats to get up and go more often!

Aging while embracing a sedentary lifestyle significantly contributes to the development of disease. Furthermore, it contributes to a decline in cognitive abilities.

In other previous studies, researchers have also found that exercise in outdoor or ‘green’ settings reduces the symptoms of ADHD.

What’s the future? Well, it’s likely that scientists will try to discover the chemical process behind  stem cell activation to produce more youthful bodies. It  can then be sold as a pill. It seems the world would rather do that than just get up and dance! And no side-effects except sore muscles that are getting stronger, more youthful, and defined!

Does this ADHD make me look fat?

Ever think that your ADHD child likes to dip into the cookie jar more than the average child? You may be right according to research reported in the International Journal of Obesity (26 October 2010| doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.214) .

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found an interesting correlation: the greater the number of ADHD symptoms, the greater risk of obesity later in life.

They examined data extracted from 15,197 respondents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the US. The Duke researchers attempted to assess the association between ADHD symptoms and naturally occurring changes in body mass index (BMI) from adolescence to adulthood. The data were collected over the years 1995 until 2009.

"This is the first study to take this concept out of the clinic and into the population and show that it’s not just the diagnosis of ADHD that matters; it’s the symptoms," said study co-author Scott Kollins, adding, "The most exciting thing about this research is it gives us a thread to follow in determining why kids with ADHD symptoms might be at risk for developing obesity. It establishes the path for identifying these kids earlier and focusing on intervention methods."

It’s well established that ADHD kids have impulse control issues. We also know that foods high in fat, sugar, and calories have the same reaction on the brain’s reward systems as stimulant drugs. This combination could likely cause higher BMI as a child ages.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. It’s likely good parenting to closely observe your child’s impulse control and assist your child to control food intake as he ages. It’s also a healthy idea to limit consumption of high fat, high sodium, and sugary foods.