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.