Is There An Association of Obesity and ADHD?

When I was a young child I remember my late father referring to a child he would see acting in a hyperactive manner: as “that kid can’t sit still”. I guess that was a 1960’s way of diagnosing ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder has been increasing in prevalence, especially in girls. About 10% of young girls carry the diagnosis. It is not certain whether the syndrome is actually increasing in prevalence or the diagnostic techniques are better thereby diagnosing more children correctly.

Does ADHD impact on weight control? Numerous studies do show a correlation between ADHD and obesity, with there being an almost 4X more likelihood of obesity in ADHD-diagnosed people. Why does this occur?

Although one would think that people with ADHD are hyperactive, running around and burning off lots of calories, the exact opposite is usually the case. Often, people with ADHD are procrastinators and do not structure their time effectively. This results in not getting to the gym regularly, not planning their meals and making spontaneous decisions when it comes to eating/drinking.

Impulsivity is another prominent ADHD symptom and the eating of high carb foods/snacks tends to lend itself to impulsive eating behaviors. People with ADHD tend to have poor sleep habits and this can lead to nocturnal eating. Additionally, ADHD people have poor interoceptive awareness, i.e. what is going on inside their bodies. The sensation of thirst could be misconstrued as hunger and the ADHD person is frequently searching for outside stimulation and eating/snacking is one of the outcomes.

There is no doubt that ADHD is a possible cause of poor weight control. Do you have any symptoms to suggest ADHD may be present and if so, perhaps it would make sense to be evaluated for this?

Author
Dr. Robert Posner One of the world’s leading medical weight loss researchers, Robert Posner, MD, operates his state-of-the-art weight loss clinic, Serotonin Plus, in the heart of Burke, Virginia, in the suburban Washington area.

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