A recent systematic review and meta-analysis has provided evidence for a significant link between ADHD and obesity.
The aim of this analysis of published* and unpublished† data was to clarify the association between ADHD and obesity/being overweight – studies were included that reported the degree of association (odds ratio [OR]) between obesity and ADHD, or data for calculating the OR.
Of 4667 records screened, 42 studies were included in the meta-analysis (encompassing n=48,161 individuals with ADHD and n=679,975 without ADHD), of which one reported data for being overweight rather than obesity. Overall, there was a statistically significant association between ADHD and obesity in both children (n=30 studies; OR 1.20) and adults (n=11 studies; OR 1.55). Furthermore, the pooled prevalence of obesity in adults and children/adolescents with ADHD was increased by approximately 70% and 40%, respectively, compared with those without ADHD. Subgroup meta-analyses of studies that used formal definitions for ADHD diagnosis and obesity values calculated from measured height and weight retained the statistically significant association (n=17 studies; OR 1.47).
The authors surmised that although the inclusion of unpublished data could introduce bias, given the high prevalence of ADHD and impairment associated with obesity, these findings translate to a significant burden to society. Further study is required to investigate causality in this possible link between ADHD and obesity.
Read more about the association between ADHD and obesity here
*Database searches included PubMed, Ovid, Web of Knowledge, ERIC and CINAHL plus
†Members of the European Network for Hyperkinetic disorders at the 22nd and 23rd EUNETHYDIS meetings, and participants of the 2nd and 3rd International ADHD Conferences, were asked to provide any unpublished data on the prevalence of obesity in individuals with ADHD
Cortese S, Moreira-Maia CR, St. Fleur D, et al. Association between ADHD and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Psychiatry 2016; 173: 34-43.