Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ADHD and Childhood Obesity

The following study was published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry on February 5, 2014:

“Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms Are Risk Factors for Obesity and Physical Inactivity in Adolescence.”  

The authors were Natasha Khalife, MSc, Marko Kantomaa, PhD, Vivette Glover, PhD, Tuija Tammelin, PhD, Jaana Laitinen, PhD, Hanna Ebeling, MD, Tuula Hurtig, PhD, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, MD, PhD, and Alina Rodriguez, PhD

It found that a diagnoses of ADHD, as well as that of conduct disorder, two supposed brain disorders (if you listen to the biological psychiatrist dogmatists), are major risk factors for the development of adolescent obesity.  

Not only that, but the mediating factor was shown to be physical inactivity and not binge eating.

So what’s so intriguing about this? Well think about it for a moment. What does the the “H” in ADHD stand for? Hyperactivity.

These supposedly hyperactive kids are somehow showing signs of an inactive lifestyle? This is even more amazing when you think about the fact that the main treatment for ADHD is drugs like Adderall, which are well known appetite suppressants.

"In general, people think of children with hyperactivity as moving around a lot and therefore should be slim" so this connection seems counterintuitive, senior author Alina Rodriguez was quoted as saying in a Medscape article about the study. What an understatement!

Maybe it's because they aren't hyperactive most of the time at all, but only under certain environmental conditions? Maybe it’s because they have parents who are poor disciplinarians? The parents not only let them eat whatever the hell they want, but let them lounge around the house all day doing as little as possible?

This is analogous to the study I discussed in my post of 8/7/13, in which high consumption of soda pop was linked to certain behavior problems in children. Everyone seemed to wonder whether soda consumption caused these problems, instead of asking the more obvious question: How come these kids were drinking so much soda? Where the hell were the parents? 


  1. Thank you for pointing out the silliness of these studies, Dr. Allen. This reminds me of my blog post on the geography of ADHD in the U.S., and how it seems to correlate with areas of the country that have lower social mobility (which I bet is also correlated with decreased parental involvement, higher obesity, etc.).

    I wish more researchers would focus on what's happening in the families and in the social context rather than what's going on in these kids' brains.

  2. Are you really a psychiatrist because you sound like you don't know anything about ADHD. There's so many things wrong with this post I don't know where to start.

    1. Well, if you don't know where to start, then we can't discuss all the points you think are untrue or illogical in the post, now can we?

  3. I had both diagnoses as a childhood, including childhood-onset conduct disorder. I was pretty active in elementary school, but as I moved toward puberty I did become more sedentary. As I understand, this is actually common in ADHD, to become less active as you move through adolescence.

    Nevertheless, I had severe issues that as early as age 5 got me put into a class for the "severely emotionally disturbed," after an attempt to find psychosocial causes for my behavior failed. So it's hard to say, at least in my case, it was fake.

  4. Yeah it seems autism is the new diagnosis for children.