Link Between ADHD and Obesity Later in Life: Another Study That Says Nothing.

Posted by joe rigs on Monday, May 20, 2013 Under: Health
A new study conducted by researchers at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center found men diagnosed as children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as likely to be obese in a 33-year follow-up study compared to men who were not diagnosed with the condition.

I just want to note for the record that I copied last line that from the official press release. Please don't chastise me for that ridiculously long run-on sentence.

Link Between Childhood ADHD and Obesity Revealed in First Long-Term Study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130520113925.htm

Lead author Dr. Castellanos stated, "The results of the study are concerning but not surprising to those who treat patients with ADHD. Lack of impulse control and poor planning skills are symptoms often associated with the condition and can lead to poor food choices and irregular eating habits. This study emphasizes that children diagnosed with ADHD need to be monitored for long-term risk of obesity and taught healthy eating habits as they become teenagers and adults."



This is an interesting study but the authors missed the mark in my opinion.

The only plausible mechanism that they propose is that children, and adults, with ADHD, have poor decision making skills, are impulsive and "hey, that just leads to eating too much bad food. Here’s a nice neat line between points A and B. Can we go home now?"

This hypothesis is flimsy at best.

For one, while they adjusted for adults taking drugs for persistent ADHD, they failed to include data on how many of the subjects were “treated” with drugs as children. Is it possible that psychotropic medication is a factor into this equation? Could these drugs, even when given to kids 20 or 30 years ago be a confounding factor? We don’t know, the data aren’t there, but I think it’s a much more interesting hypothesis than saying, “hey, these people just make shitty decisions and now they’re fat. Someone should really teach them to count calories and eat a low-fat... ‘cause, ya know, that’s worked out so well for everyone else.”

Even more interesting is this: Could the increased incidence of obesity, in people with ADD/ADHD, be caused by poor dietary choices, or could poor dietary choices be a cause for ADD/ADHD in the first place.

Let me give you an example: Dutch researchers concluded, in a study published in The Lancet in 2011, that an astounding, 78% of children with ADHD saw marked improvement on an elimination diet. This study, by the way, was a double-blind, cross-over study-- the gold standard in research. Examples of foods eliminated include wheat, soy, corn, food coloring, certain preservatives and dairy. In other words, a whole lot of processed crap.  In some cases, these elimination diets looked a heck of a lot like a standard paleo template.

So, could some of those same food that caused the ADHD in these kids cause weight gain? Uh... Yeah. You might say that Dr. Castellanos’ study has a huge white elephant and it’s name is Lucky Charms.

Within my practice I’ve witnessed the amazing turnaround in kids that were “diagnosed” with ADHD only to find that they really had a reaction to a food, coloring or other chemical. I’m happy to say we’ve saved a few kids form the jaws of Ridalin by the way.

So here we have yet another example of a whole bunch of time and an obscene amount of money spent on a flawed research, proving nothing and helping no one.

While it’s great to have scientific literature to back up your nutrition and health philosophy, sometime your own personal anecdotal evidence is your best research.

In : Health 


Tags: add  adhd  paleo  primal  obesity 

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About Me


Joe Rignola, HHC, FDN Joe Rignola is an author, Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist and Health Counselor. More importantly, I hate talking in the 3rd person. I'm really just a guy who took control of my own health and overcame several ailments including metabolic disorders, digestive issues, depression and ADD. Actually, my recovery from ADD however is questionable.