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The first longitudinal study to look at the association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity from a young age found that women with childhood ADHD are more prone to obesity.
The results were valid for both childhood and adulthood. Obesity has rightfully been dubbed an epidemic that must be tackled. Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity and adult obesity rates spiked to unprecedented levels. Beyond looking at lifestyle and dietary indicators, researchers have tried to gain a deeper understanding of the role ADHD might play in encouraging obesity.
Previous research has linked ADHD with an elevated risk of obesity. While no cause and effect relation has been pinned, previous studies indicate that behavioral factors, genetic mechanisms and neurobiological factors may underpin the overlap of the two conditions.
The new study conducted by Doctor Seema Kumar with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Research Center and published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a longitudinal study looking at the link between ADHD and obesity in the same sex, same birth cohorts. A total of 336 individuals with childhood ADHD were included in the study. They were born between 1976 and 1982. The control group comprised 665 non-ADHD individuals with the same sex and age as the 336 individuals.
The research team accounted for height, weight and stimulant treatments use. To determine the link between ADHD and obesity, the researchers used Cox models. At large, the results suggest that women with childhood ADHD are more prone to obesity. However, according to the findings, stimulant treatments did not influence the link.
The research could prove useful for enlarging the scope of awareness campaigns. Childhood ADHD and childhood obesity should be explained to the families of individuals presenting either of the two conditions or both. Healthcare providers and caregivers could play crucial roles in enhancing awareness of the little understood childhood ADHD, a condition which may well progress into adulthood.
Another study conducted in 2002 found that a large percentage of individuals looking for help with weight loss also had a history of ADHD. Several other studies have looked at the same association. The Mayo Clinic study led by Doctor Kumar was however the first to trace the association chronologically from an early age onwards. The most important finding of the study is that women with childhood ADHD are more prone to obesity.
Photo Credits: Flickr