ADHD linked to higher risk of eating disorder in children, teens
Children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk for a certain type of eating disorder, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
People with the eating disorder, called loss of control eating syndrome (LOC-ES), are sometimes unable to stop eating, even if they want to.
The study included 79 children between the ages of 8 and 14 who were assessed for ADHD and LOC-ES. Those with ADHD were 12 times more likely to have LOC-ES than those without the ADHD, the researchers found.
Among children who were overweight and obese, those with LOC-ES were seven times more likely to have ADHD than those without the eating disorder, the study found.
Study lead author Dr. Shauna Reinblatt, an assistant professor in child and adolescent psychiatry at the university’s School of Medicine, said children who had both ADHD and LOC-ES may have a more severe form of ADHD that is marked by more impulsive behaviors, which shows up strongly in their eating habits.
Children who scored higher on tests of impulsivity were more likely to have LOC-ES, whether or not they had ADHD. However, Dr. Reinblatt said children who have ADHD and LOC-ES may have an underlying risk factor, such as a genetic predisposition to impulsivity.
Reinblatt said more research is needed to learn about the connection between ADHD and LOC-ES, but doctors should screen for ADHD and eating disorders.
“Our findings underscore the need for developing new treatment strategies that could help target disinhibited eating in kids who have both ADHD and LOC-ES,” she said.
The study was first published online in the International Journal of Eating Disorders on April 9.
According to the CDC, ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, and often lasts into adulthood. As of 2011, approximately 11 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 (64 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD.