Independent studies evaluating whether an association between obesity and ADHD exists have drawn conflicting conclusions. To examine the relationship between obesity and ADHD, an international team of researchers searched through a broad range of databases and unpublished material to identify population-based studies and clinical studies of individuals with ADHD compared with non-ADHD controls.
Of the forty-two studies (which included 728,136 people) selected for inclusion, the researchers found that obesity was significantly associated with an ADHD diagnosis in both adults and children. The estimated prevalence of obesity was increased by about 70% in adults with ADHD compared with adults without ADHD and by about 40% in children with ADHD compared with children without ADHD. The researchers also noted that individuals taking medication for ADHD were not at any higher risk for obesity than those with untreated ADHD.
“Although obesity has been found to be associated with other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, its association with ADHD might be particularly significant for its potential treatment implications,” the study authors wrote. “Assessing the risk for obesity should be part of the assessment and management of ADHD.”
To read more about ADHD, see the Psychiatric News article "Study Suggests ADHD in Adults May Be Distinct Disorder."