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According to neurological pathology, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is currently considered to be a chronic syndrome for which no medical cure is available. ADHD is believed to affect between 3-5% of the United States population, including both children and adults.  ADHD results in problems with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, which can affect social interactions, work or school productivity and self-esteem. Research suggests that attention deficit disorder may be linked with another rising childhood disorder — obesity.

A new study observed the correlation between ADHD and obesity development during childhood. Even though numerous studies have proposed the hypothesis a possible relation between obesity and ADHD, this is the first study based on population examination. The study also assessed the relation between the age and sex of patients with the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings and was made possible by the Rochester Epidemiology Project and National Institute of Health Research.

Study subjects included 336 patients with childhood ADHD, which were compared by age and sex with 665  non-ADHD individuals from 1976 to 1982 birth cohort (N=5718). Height, weight, and stimulant treatment measurements were abstracted retrospectively from medical records, documented from January 1, 1976, through August 31, 2010. The association between ADHD and obesity in patients with ADHD was estimated using Cox models.

The study found a statistically significant relationship between ADHD females and development of obesity. Females diagnosed with ADHD during their childhood were twice likely to develop obesity compared to non-ADHD females. “Females with ADHD are at risk of developing obesity during adulthood, and stimulant medications used to treat ADHD do not appear to alter that risk,” says lead author Dr. Kumar, pediatrician and researcher at Mayo Clinic Children's Research Center.

Another study has hypothesized about the link between these two disorders. They have found the link to be dopamine. It is observed that in both conditions dopamine plays a major role, therefore linking them together. Researchers Benjamin Charles Campbell and Dan Eisenberg (2007) note that dopamine levels in the brain increase when food is present, even if the person does not eat it. Increased levels of dopamine are linked to the reward system in the brain, inducing feelings of happiness. By activating the dopaminergic pathways, eating becomes a pleasurable task. Patients with ADHD have low dopamine levels and they may use food as a means of satisfaction and to increase levels of dopamine. Overeating, in turn, can cause obesity, if it’s not kept under control.

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Both these studies encourage patients affected with ADHD to prevent obesity by engaging in a healthy activities and lifestyle, such as eating healthy and exercising.

 

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