ADHD and Other Disorders May Be Tied to Childhood Obesity

ADHD and Other Disorders May Be Tied to Childhood Obesity

A child, especially  girl, with ADHD or sleep disorders, can develop problems with childhood obesity, which can carry into her adulthood. Creative commons image by VanessaQ.

A child, especially girl, with ADHD or sleep disorders, can develop problems with childhood obesity, which can carry into her adulthood. Creative commons image by VanessaQ.

A study from Mexico revealed that children who battle neurological disorders may also have issues with childhood obesity. In fact, researchers said that conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep issues can be a root cause of obesity in children.

Childsobesity.com explored the topic about later meals and that they do not contribute to childhood obesity (click here for our article). However, recent studies have revealed that toddlers especially who are tucked in earlier than 8 p.m. are at a lesser risk of childhood obesity, even by half, until adolescence (click here for our article).

What is ADHD? It is a neurological condition that is classified as a psychiatric one. Kids tend to be hyperactive and impulsive with this condition.

In the neurological study in Mexico, doctors explored magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of children’s heads in both the “normal” weight and “obese” categories. Additionally, they looked at other factors in kids including ADHD diagnosis, sleep issues, emotional issues, speech delays or problems, a shorter than normal height and other factors.

The doctors, who were affiliated with Mexico’s Children’s Hospital “Federico Gomez” noted that the brain connectivity differed in the kids who had these issues, and in turn, often led to these health conditions including obesity.

Doctors in another study looked at children who had ADHD versus kids without it, with 336 versus 665, and from the years of 1976 and 1982. They tracked kids’ statistics including weight and their height, as well as if they were under any kind of treatment with stimulant medications, during the years 1976 through 2010.

This study found that females especially were at risk of becoming obese as they grow older if they had ADHD. Girls without it didn’t have that inherent risk.

However, kids who have ADHD aren’t always slated for obesity, though the risk for them is there. Even being treated with stimulant medications did not lower the risk.

Researchers say that eating disorders are often connected to ADHD in females, though not in males. For females, they may binge eat, which in turn triggers symptoms. That is also because they have a natural lack of control due to their ADHD, which may fuel the habit of overeating.

Parents should ensure their children eat a healthy diet and enjoy physical activity, which can also help to reduce stress overall for a child with ADHD. Additionally, children who have ADHD should habitually sleep enough in order to regulate their moods. A lack of sleep can fuel depression and increase symptoms.

In one sleep study at the University of Houston, kids at ages seven through 11 were imposed sleep restrictions, which caused a shift in their moods, as well as memory difficulties of positive experiences. In turn, a lack of sleep fosters negative emotions.

What they also found is the importance to diagnose these conditions before the age of five, and especially not following a child’s arrival at adolescence. Symptoms of ADHD tend to make their appearance within six months of diagnosis, and may peak until the age of 12. Parents should especially note if their child has a stunt in growth, becomes obese, acts aggressive or any other unusual behaviors or characteristics, that parents should contact their child’s pediatrician immediately for an evaluation.

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