Researchers have discovered that men diagnosed as children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as likely to be obese adults.
Investigators from the Child Study Center at New York University’s Langone Medical Center report the results of the 33-year follow-up study online in the journal Pediatrics.
“Few studies have focused on long-term outcomes for patients diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. In this study, we wanted to assess the health outcomes of children diagnosed with ADHD, focusing on obesity rates and body mass index,” said lead author Francisco Xavier Castellanos, M.D.
“Our results found that even when you control for other factors often associated with increased obesity rates such as socioeconomic status, men diagnosed with ADHD were at a significantly higher risk to suffer from high BMI and obesity as adults.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders, often diagnosed in childhood and lasting into adulthood.
People with ADHD typically have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors and tend to be overly active. ADHD has an estimated worldwide prevalence of five percent, with men more likely to be diagnosed than women.
The longitudinal prospective study included 207 white men diagnosed with ADHD at an average age of 8 and a comparison group of 178 men not diagnosed with childhood ADHD. Participants were matched for race, age, residence and social class.
The average age at follow up was 41 years old. The study was designed to compare body mass index (BMI) and obesity rates in grown men with and without childhood ADHD.
Results showed that, on average, men with childhood ADHD had significantly higher BMI (30.1 vs. 27.6) and obesity rates (41.1 percent vs. 21.6 percent) than men without childhood ADHD.
“The results of the study are concerning but not surprising to those who treat patients with ADHD. Lack of impulse control and poor planning skills are symptoms often associated with the condition and can lead to poor food choices and irregular eating habits,” noted Castellanos.
“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.”
Source: NYU Langone Medical Center