Monday, April 14, 2014

New Study Investigates Association Between Obesity and ADHD

Various studies have linked attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with obesity. But questions have been raised about whether ADHD contributes to development of obesity or obesity contributes to development of ADHD. A prospective, longitudinal, population-based study suggests that both answers may be correct. Childhood ADHD symptoms significantly predicted adolescent obesity, rather than the opposite. Yet one contributor to obesity—a lack of physical activity in childhood—predicted inattention in adolescence.

The study included some 8,000 children and was headed by Alina Rodriquez, Ph.D., a visiting professor in epidemiology and biostatistics at the Imperial College London School of Public Health. Results appear in the April Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The study findings have clinical implications, Rodriquez and her team said in their report, in that children with ADHD should be monitored for being overweight or obese at an early age, thus potentially averting a developmental trajectory of obesity. Also, since physical inactivity was found to mediate the association between ADHD and obesity, physical activity should be encouraged in youngsters with ADHD. And since a lack of physical activity in childhood predicted inattention in adolescence, "physical activity may also alleviate ADHD symptoms in the long term," they said.

More information about ADHD can be found in the American Psychiatric Publishing book, Essentials of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. For a comprehensive text about the field of overweight and obesity, see The Gravity of Weight: A Clinical Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance, also from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: Christophe Rolland/


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