Recent research suggests that ADHD may be linked with impulse-control problems associated with eating. Indeed, it is linked with obesity and inordinate weight levels, according to lead researcher, Shauna P. Reinblatt, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While the nature of the link is unclear, researchers believe the impulsivity correlated with ADHD may be correlated with dysregulation when it comes to food consumption.
The study involved recruiting 79 children between the ages of 8 to 14, subjecting them to assessment intended to measure impulse-control ability. In one test, for example, participants were asked to ush a button when they saw a green spaceship appear but refrain when it was a red spaceship. The more incorrect responses, the greater the problems with impulse-control. The researchers determined that those diagnosed with ADHD were 12 times higher to be diagnosed with impulse-control problems. Those who were obese or overweight and diagnosed with an impulse-control disorder related to eating were 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, compared with obese children who did not have food-related impulse control problems. Indeed, “When the researchers looked at rates of impulsivity regardless of an ADHD diagnosis, they found that odds of having LOC-ES climbed with incremental increases in scores on two different tests for impulsivity.”
“The findings point to a link between ADHD and disinhibited eating, although Reinblatt says, the roots of the underlying connection remain obscure and require additional research. Children with ADHD who also have LOC-ES might have a more severe form of ADHD marked by more impulsive behavior that particularly manifests in their eating patterns, Reinblatt says. Alternatively, children with both ADHD and LOC-ES might have a shared underlying risk factor, such as a genetic predisposition to impulsivity.”