ADHD News & Research

New Study: Children with ADHD At Risk for Eating Disorders

New research finds kids with ADHD are 12 times more likely to binge eat than are children without the condition.

 April 28, 2015

ADHD is often linked to unwanted weight gain and loss. Children with ADHD are sometimes underweight because medications suppress appetite. Adults with ADHD struggle with weight because their chemical wiring increases dopamine-seeking cravings for carbohydrates.

A new study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, sheds more light on the food-ADHD connection. The researchers found that children with ADHD are significantly more likely to have loss of control eating syndrome (LOC-ES), a disorder that could lead to binge eating, than are kids without the condition. Binge eating, an eating disorder, is characterized in part by a person’s inability to control how much they eat – they may eat too much too quickly when they are not hungry.

The study evaluated 79 children between ages eight and 14 in the Baltimore area. It evaluated ADHD and LOC-ES with interviews, parental reports, and neuropsychological testing that measured impulse control. The children with ADHD were 12 times more likely to have LOC-ES. Additionally, researchers found that children in the sample who were overweight were seven times more likely to have ADHD.

These findings further solidify the link between attention deficit and weight problems, and open new avenues for research into the connection between impulsive behavior and obesity. Since both disorders hinge on a dysregulation of impulse control, researchers are hopeful that new investigation could lead to a treatment that helps both conditions.