ADHD

Updated 25 May 2015

ADHD linked to binge-eating disorder in kids

Kids and teens with ADHD may be at a higher risk for a form of binge-eating syndrome, a study suggests.

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Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an increased risk of a certain type of eating disorder, according to a new study.

Can't stop eating

The eating disorder is called loss of control eating syndrome (LOC-ES). As the name implies, people with this disorder sometimes can't stop eating, even if they want to, according to the researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Centre in Baltimore.

Their study included 79 children between the ages of 8 and 14. The kids were assessed for ADHD and the eating disorder. Those with ADHD were 12 times more likely to have the eating disorder than those without ADHD, the study revealed.

Read: Diagnosing ADHD

Among overweight and obese children, those with LOC-ES were seven times more likely to have ADHD than those without the eating disorder.

Also, children who scored higher on tests of impulsivity were more likely to have the eating disorder, whether or not they had ADHD, according to the study.

More severe form of ADHD

Children with both ADHD and LOC-ES may have a more severe form of ADHD marked by more impulsive behaviour that shows up strongly in their eating habits, said study leader Dr. Shauna Reinblatt in a Hopkins news release.

She is an assistant professor in child and adolescent psychiatry at the university's School of Medicine.

Read: Treating ADHD

Or it may be that children with both ADHD and LOC-ES have a shared underlying risk factor, such as a genetic predisposition to impulsivity, she added.

Further research is needed to learn more about the connection between the two disorders, but doctors should screen for both ADHD and eating disorders, according to Reinblatt.

New treatment strategies

"Our findings underscore the need for developing new treatment strategies that could help target disinhibited eating in kids who have both ADHD and LOC-ES," she said.

The study was published recently in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Read More:

Fidgeting may help children with ADHD learn

The ABC of ADHD

Kids of obese moms have elevated risk of ADHD

Image: Kid eating spaghetti from Shutterstock

 

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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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