Childhood ADHD May Increase Obesity Risk

JUNE 21, 2013
Men diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as children are at a greater risk for obesity as adults than their peers without ADHD, according to the results of a study published online on May 20, 2013, in Pediatrics.

The study included 207 white men diagnosed with ADHD at an average age of 8 and 178 undiagnosed controls. At follow-up, 111 men with childhood ADHD and 111 men without ADHD participated. The average body mass index (BMI) for the men with childhood ADHD was 30.1, compared with 26.7 for the controls. Just 21.6% of men without ADHD were obese, compared with 41.4% of the men with ADHD. The differences between the groups remained significant even after researchers adjusted for factors such as socio-economic status and lifetime mental illness. The researchers found no difference in obesity rates between men with persistent ADHD and those with remitted ADHD.

The researchers conclude that children diagnosed with ADHD have an increased risk of high BMI and obesity as adults. “This study emphasizes that children diagnosed with ADHD need to be monitored for long-term risk of obesity and taught healthy eating habits as they become teenagers and adults,” said lead author Francisco Xavier Castellanos, MD, of NYU Langone Medical Center, in a press release.


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