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It has often been observed that children suffering from ADHD grow up into obese teens. A recent study confirms the same. Read on to find out more about the linkage between childhood ADHD and obesity in teens.

Linkage between Childhood ADHD and Obesity in Teens

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very common brain disorder in children. Children suffering from ADHD exhibit various behavioral symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsiveness. Childhood ADHD is commonly characterized by short attention span, easy distraction, and a constant fidgetiness. These symptoms make it very difficult for the child to focus on studies and finish small tasks. Such children also face difficulty getting along with other children and adults.

The brain imaging studies of children suffering from ADHD reveal that although the brain matures in a normal manner, there is a delay of about 3 years. This delay in development of the brain is most pronounced in areas responsible for paying attention, thinking, and planning. 

Childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be attributed to genes, environmental factors, brain injuries, and food additives.

As per a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have an increased likelihood of becoming obese in their teens. The study was conducted by researchers at the Imperial College in London. They followed about 7000 children in Finland, belonging to the age group of 7-8 years till the time they were 16. The study found that children who were exhibiting symptoms of ADHD when they were 8 years old were more likely to grow up into obese teens. Such children were also more susceptible to leading a sedentary lifestyle.

For the study, data was collected using questionnaires based on lifestyle and health related issues. The data was collected from the sample population when they were 7-8 years old. At 16 years, data was once again collected based on questionnaires and health examinations comprising growth measurement.

The study found that 9% of the children who tested positive for ADHD were at a greater risk for developing obesity at the age of 16.

The study also found that children who were physically less active at the age of 8 years were likely to suffer from inattention as teenagers. The study suggests that although all physically inactive children are at a risk of becoming obese teenagers, children with ADHD symptoms need special attention to ensure that they lead a physically active lifestyle.

Symptoms of ADHD in Children

A child is considered to be suffering from ADHD if she/he exhibits six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness or six or more symptoms of inattentiveness.

Symptoms of Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness

The main symptoms of impulsiveness and hyperactivity are listed below:

  • Difficulty in sitting still in a quiet surrounding
  • Continuous fidgety behavior
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Being overly talkative
  • Difficulty in waiting for a turn
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Not thinking before acting
  • Having almost negligible sense of danger

Symptoms of Inattentiveness

The main symptoms of inattentiveness are listed below:

  • Getting very easily distracted
  • Having a short attention span
  • Not responding when spoken to
  • Being forgetful and losing things easily
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Inability to complete long and tedious tasks
Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms Are Risk Factors for Obesity and Physical Inactivity in Adolescence”, by Natasha Khalife, et al. Published in the April 2014 issue of Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, accessed on April 6, 2014
  • “Overweight in Children and Adolescents in Relation to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Results From a National Sample” by Molly E. Waring, et al. Published in the Volume 122, No. 1 July 2008 issue of Pediatrics, accessed on April 6, 2014.
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