Researchers at Duke University may just have unlocked one of the clues to the obesity epidemic. Surprisingly, it's ADHD.
They found that the most significant risk factor for adult obesity was ADHD as child; the more ADHD symptoms, the more likely the person was to be obese as an adult.
With recent stats that one in 10 kids is diagnosed with ADHD, that would explain a lot about why so many adults struggle with their weight.
But the study leaves more questions than it does answers.
First of all, what are we going to do about it? It's all well and good to say that this correlation exists, but what are parents raising kids with ADHD supposed to do? There's a big debate about medicating kids with ADHD versus using behavioral methods to help them cope with the symptoms; does either have a greater impact on their future obesity risk?
And why, exactly, does this happen? Is it a simple trick of brain chemistry that's linked to the one that causes the ADHD? And on a lighter note: Kids with ADHD never, ever stop moving! How does that turn into an adult who probably doesn't exercise enough? I would figure ADHD kids would be marathon runners and rock climbers when they grow up, not obese people!
And of course, this news bothers me because I have some skin in the game. I have ADD (without the hyperactivity component) and as I watch my little daughter grow up, I see so much in her that is very much like me when it comes to attention. She's still young and doing well in school and with friends, so we haven't had her evaluated for it. She's also a string bean, tall and lanky like her dad. This gives me one more thing to worry about: not only do we have to worry about her academic and social future if she does turn out to have attention deficits, but is she doomed to be obese?
Give us more, Duke. Knowing this about our kids doesn't help us if it doesn't tell us how to help them.
What do you think of the link between ADHD and obesity?
Imag via FGMB/Flickr