Severe Obesity and Adult ADHD: Connection and Cure
In 2006, at the age of 47, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been researching adult ADHD ever since. I was taken by surprise when a visitor to my blog, ADHD from A to Zoë, posted a comment about the connection between severe obesity and adult ADHD.
I hadn’t heard of the connection before. The writer, we’ll call him Jerry, is a 52-year-old male who’d undergone bariatric surgery a year ago. Recently, Jerry was diagnosed with ADHD. Jerry says the discovery of ADHD has been life-changing for him.
Jerry’s correspondence was a revelation to me, affirming the fact that the connection between severe obesity and adult ADHD is not widely known or understood.
Jerry pointed out that undiagnosed and untreated ADHD is a huge contributing factor in a significant number of cases of severe obesity. His comment that this is true “…especially (for) women since ADHD is often predominantly inattentive and less likely to be diagnosed,” struck a chord.
I could instantly see that, in a body-conscious society like ours, a woman may be highly likely to seek treatment for ongoing obesity. On the other hand, as Jerry suggests, women are often overlooked when it comes to receiving an ADHD diagnosis.
Some people, even some medical professional, still question the existence of adult ADHD. As a result, adult ADHD is not widely recogonized and remains largely untreated. The stereotype of ADHD being the sole purview of hyperactive little boys and reckless, race-car driving adult males naturally leads us away from suspecting that the morbidly obese middle-aged woman might also suffer from symptoms of ADD.
But in fact, she does. And according to rapidly accumulating research, the number of severely obese women suffering from underlying ADHD may be as high as 38 percent. A 2004 study of severely obese women by J.P. Fleming, L.D. Levy, and R.D. Levitan reported 26.7 percent of the subjects experienced significant ADHD symptoms in both childhood and adulthood. A January 2009 study that included both men and women echoed these results. Women made up 92 percent of the subjects in this study, and the results showed that up to 38 percent of these severely obese adults also suffered from ADHD.