ADHD and Incidence of Eating Disorders

ADHD and eating disorders

Eating Disorders Common In ADHD Girls: Compulsive Behavior Tied To Body Image Problems

Girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have an eating disorder, a new study said. “Adolescent girls with ADHD frequently develop body-image dissatisfaction and may go through repeating cycles of binge eating and purging behaviors that are common in bulimia nervosa,” said University of Virginia psychologist Amori Yee Mikami.

ADHD is thought to be three times more common in boys than girls, so researchers are still learning its long-term effects on girls. But eating disorders are 10 times more common in girls. “Our finding suggests that girls may develop a broader range of problems in adolescence than their male counterparts,” Mikami said. She said girls often go undiagnosed and untreated for ADHD, which could increase the risk of eating disorders. “As they get older, their impulsivity may make it difficult for them to maintain healthy eating and a healthy weight, resulting in self-consciousness about their body image and the binging and purging symptoms,” she said.

The results are based on a study of 228 girls in the San Francisco Bay area; 140 had ADHD. “An additional concern is that stimulant medications used to treat ADHD have a side effect of appetite suppression, creating a risk that overweight girls could abuse these medicines to encourage weight loss, though we have not yet investigated that possibility,” Mikami said. The findings appeared in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Note: if you treat both eating disorders and ADHD, then consider joining our sister organization at


UVA Today – Adolescent Girls with ADHD Are at Increased Risk for Eating Disorders

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© 2008, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

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