ADHD Increases Risk of Teenage Obesity and Physical Inactivity

Teenager with ADHDChildren with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an increased risk of becoming obese and sedentary teenagers compared to children without the disorder, says a new study from researchers at the Imperial College London as reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

ADHD is a behavior disorder characterized by not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able control behavior, or a combination of the three symptoms. ADHD affects between two and five percent of children in the United Kingdom.

Previous studies have suggested a link between ADHD and obesity. For the present study, the researchers investigated the association and directionality between ADHD symptoms and obesity from childhood to adolescence.

After looking at almost 7,000 children in Finland, the researchers concluded that children with ADHD symptoms at age 8 had a significantly increased risk of obesity at age 16. Children with ADHD symptoms were also less physically active during adolescence.

States senior author Professor Alina Rodriguez, visiting professor at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London:

“Obesity is a growing problem that we need to watch out for in all children and young people, but these findings suggest that it’s particularly important for children with ADHD. It appears that lack of physical activity might be a key factor. We think encouraging children with ADHD to be more physically active could improve their behaviour problems as well as helping them to stay a healthy weight, and studies should be carried out to test this theory.”

The present study also looked at children with childhood conduct disorder (CD) symptoms. CD is a disordered related to ADHD that is linked to tendencies towards delinquency, rulebreaking, and violence. Children with CD symptoms also had an increased risk of obesity and physical inactivity as teenagers.

As the study concludes, children with ADHD or CD symptoms are at increased risk for becoming obese and physically inactive adolescents. The researchers suggest that physical activity may improve both behavior problems and obesity.


Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms Are Risk Factors for Obesity and Physical Inactivity in Adolescence:
Children with ADHD Have Higher Risk of Teenage Obesity and Physical Inactivity:

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