Mayo research: Girls with ADHD more prone to obesity

Publish date:

A Mayo Clinic researcher in Rochester says her study has found that girls with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are more likely to also develop obesity than other kids are.

Dr. Seema Kumar found girls with ADHD were twice as likely to be obese as those without the disorder, Mayo says.

Kumar is a pediatrician who is with Mayo's Children's Research Center. You can read her full study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Health Day reports Kumar says the same abnormalities in the brain that can cause ADHD also cause eating disorders. She says girls with ADHD may not be able to control their eating, noting that kids with the disorder lack impulse control.

No link found among boys

Kumar says boys with ADHD are not likely to have eating disorders. She says the disorder tends to make boys hyperactive, causing them to burn off calories.

Health Day spoke with a pediatrician not involved in the study, Dr. Brandon Korman of Niklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

Korman agrees that ADHD is different in boys and girls: ""Boys tend to act out, while girls may engage in eating behaviors," Korman said, adding that girls have more "internalizing behaviors."

Mayo released a video in which Kumar summarizes the findings:

Kumar says females with ADHD continue to be at risk of obesity into adulthood. She says the stimulant medications used to treat ADHD (Ritalin and Adderall, for example) do not appear to alter the risk or be associated with obesity.

Find more background on ADHD from the National Institute of Mental Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on childhood obesity and Web MD has tips on preventing obesity among kids.

Next Up