Childhood ADHD Linked To Obesity In Adulthood

Based on the findings of study published in Pediatrics and co-authored by Dr. F. Xavier Castellanos – a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University – there is a possible link between a childhood diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the onset of obesity in adulthood.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurobehavioral disorder with symptoms of exaggerated levels of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Physical indicators of ADHD include excessive or inappropriately timed fidgeting, running or climbing, yelling and interrupting, an inability to wait his/her turn, and a difficulty remaining still and quiet for prolonged periods.

Typically a child with this disorder has at least one co-occurrence of another developmental or behavioral problem, and ADHD is more often diagnosed in boys than girls. Therefore, more men are at risk of becoming obese later in life if there is in fact an association between the two conditions.

Obesity is a medical condition defining the excessive amount of accumulated body fat, amassed to the point of potentially causing additional health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

The linear data for the study initially came from 207 Caucasian males with ADHD and aged between 6 and 12. Another group of teenagers without ADHD were incorporated 10 years later. Participants were reviewed in adulthood and asked to report on weight and possible contributing factors.

Two groups of men in their 40s were surveyed. Of those 222 still participating in the research years later, 111 in each group, it was found men who had a childhood history of ADHD were, on average, 19 pounds heavier than their non-ADHD counterparts. The average body mass index (BMI) for the ADHD participants was 30.1, compared to 27.6 among those who never had the disorder. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight.

Men with a history of ADHD reported weighing 213 pounds and 41.4 percent of them were obese. In comparison, men without ADHD weighed in at an average of 194 pounds, and 21.6 percent qualified as obese.

Researchers did find that the men who no longer had their childhood ADHD symptoms were especially likely to be obese, not those who still had persistent attention problems. Castellanos speculates the possible cause of obesity could be due to the poor planning and choice making commonly symptomatic to ADHD.

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