Children who experience symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are significantly more likely to become obese as teenagers, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Neurology.
The study examined Finnish children with ADHD symptoms at age 7 to 8 and again at age 16. During the first part, researchers looked at the participants’ body mass index (BMI) and level of play; during the second part, adolescents reported their level of physical activity and binge eating, and doctors examined them to determine their BMI and waist–hip ratio (WHR). Obesity was defined using the International Obesity Task Force cutoffs for BMI and the 95th percentile cutoff for WHR.
The researchers found that children with ADHD symptoms experienced low levels of physical activity as adolescents (but were not likely to binge eat), and children who displayed low levels of physically active play time were more likely to experience more difficulty paying attention as adolescents. The researchers concluded that increasing activity for children with ADHD at an early age may help improve focus and prevent obesity later in life.