Thursday, September 18, 2014

Could ADHD Play a Role in Obesity?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common behavioral disorder in children, affecting three to five percent of that age group, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

ADHD results in problems with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, which can affect social interactions, work or school productivity and self-esteem. Research suggests that attention deficit disorder may be also linked with another rising disorder — obesity.
A new study in the Western Journal of Nursing Research suggests the possibility of screening anyone with a chronic weight issue for ADHD since one in five adults who were obese turned out to have multiple symptoms of it, compared with around one in thirty in the general adult population. Previous studies have also found that children and adults with ADHD are significantly more likely to be overweight.

According to Psychology Today, “The link between ADHD and poor eating habits isn't surprising when you consider that it is a disorder of executive function, a set of cognitive skills which act as our brain manager. Executive function impacts almost every aspect of living, encompassing our ability to self-regulate, organize, plan, prioritize and anticipate the future. Eating is only one of many facets of ordinary life influenced by ADHD, yet typically flies under the radar.”
What can be done?

·    Set a good example for your family.  Children emulate their parents.  If you make healthy food choices so will your kids.

·    When having dinner as a family, don’t eat in front of the TV.  This way, you and your children will know exactly how much you are consuming.  Talk during dinner and place your utensils on your plate when you are speaking.  This will encourage you – and your family – to eat more slowly and actually participate in conversation.

·    Children are easily distracted – especially kids with ADHD.  If you don’t want your children consuming junk food out of boredom or low self-esteem, don’t keep junk food in your pantry.  Treat chips, cake and cookies as a treat for special occasions or a weekend indulgence.

·    Don’t use food to calm an agitated child.  Young kids will learn to connect food with their emotions and, later in life, could use food to try to ward off sadness and, thus, creating weight issues.

·    Establish healthy eating – and exercise – habits from an early age.  As I wrote about in my blog, “Exercise Helps Children with ADHD,” regular, half-hour sessions of aerobic activity before school helped young children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder become more attentive.  So, make exercise fun!  Rake leaves, walk around the neighborhood or play tag in the backyard as a family.  Not only will you burn calories and help your family members with ADHD lessen their symptoms, you will create lifelong memories together and teach your children the value of an ongoing healthy, active lifestyle.
To learn how Fitness for Health helps children and adults with ADD and ADHD improve their cognitive abilities through exercise, visit or call 301-231-7138 to schedule a free tour of our facility.