Childhood ADHD Linked with Teenage Obesity

Published Online: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Although children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are typically very active, the results of a recent study suggest that they are more likely to become inactive and obese as teenagers.

The study, published online on February 5, 2014, in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, followed children through adolescence, analyzing associations between ADHD symptoms, childhood conduct disorder (CD) symptoms, and obesity. When children were aged 7 to 8 years, teachers reported ADHD and CD symptoms and parents reported BMI and physical activity. At 16 years of age, parents reported ADHD symptoms and the teens reported physical activity and eating behaviors.

The results indicated a significant association between childhood ADHD symptoms and adolescent obesity. Children with inattention-hyperactivity symptoms at 8 years of age had an increased odds ratio of 1.91 for having an obese BMI and of 1.71 for having a waist-hip ratio at or above the 95th percentile at 16 years of age. ADHD and CD symptoms in childhood were also significantly associated with physical inactivity in teenagers. No relationship was found for binge eating and symptoms of either condition.

“Physical activity may be beneficial for both behavior problems and obesity,” the authors of the study conclude.

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