ADHD Is Linked to Adult Obesity

Research published in the journal Pediatrics
reports that boys who are diagnosed with ADHD are twice as likely to become obese adults.

Study co-author, Dr. Francisco Xavier Castellanos

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The international study involved researchers from New York, Mexico, and Verona and spanned over 30 years. They followed 207 Caucasian boys diagnosed with childhood ADHD. Starting at an average age of about 8, they were interviewed at ages 18-25 and finally at age 41. At age 18, 178 boys without ADHD were recruited for the study.

The researchers found that at age 41, the men who had ADHD weighed an average of 213 pounds with 41 percent of them deemed obese. The non-ADHD group averaged 194 pounds, with only 22 percent deemed obese. The men with childhood ADHD tended to have a higher body-mass index (BMI) and obesity, even if they no longer had ADHD symptoms. Additionally, socioeconomics made no difference; wealthy or poor, they tended toward obesity.

Study co-author, Dr. Francisco Xavier Castellanos, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry in the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center said, “The bottom line is, boys who were hyperactive when followed up for more than 30 years turn out to be more likely to be obese than comparable kids from their same communities.”

The authors could not determine why adult obesity followed a childhood ADHD diagnosis. Some theories:

* With our current understanding of dopamine and ADHD (see prior submission), ADHD children may be trying to increase dopamine levels through food intake.

* Poor impulse control and poor planning skills are frequently associated with ADHD. This could lead to food choices and poor eating habits. Impulse control may also contribute to overeating.