Association between adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and obesity in the US population

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; Department of Pediatrics; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity; Body Mass Index; Bulimia Nervosa; Cross-Sectional Studies; Depression; Feeding Behavior; Female; Humans; Logistic Models; Male; Motor Activity; Obesity; Overweight; Prevalence; Retrospective Studies; Risk Factors; United States


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects approximately 2.9-4.7% of US adults. Studies have revealed high rates of ADHD (26-61%) in patients seeking weight loss treatment suggesting an association between ADHD and obesity. The objective of the present study was to test the association between ADHD and overweight and obesity in the US population. Cross-sectional data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys were used. Participants were 6,735 US residents (63.9% white; 51.6% female) aged 18-44 years. A retrospective assessment of childhood ADHD and a self-report assessment of adult ADHD were administered. Diagnosis was defined by three categories: never met diagnostic criteria, met full childhood criteria with no current symptoms, and met full childhood criteria with current symptoms. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was 33.9 and 29.4%, respectively, among adults with ADHD, and 28.8 and 21.6%, respectively, among persons with no history of ADHD. Adult ADHD was associated with greater likelihood of overweight, (odds ratio (OR) = 1.58; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05, 2.38) and obesity (OR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.14, 2.64). Results were similar when adjusting for demographic characteristics and depression. Mediation analyses suggest that binge eating disorder (BED), but not depression, partially mediates the associations between ADHD and both overweight and obesity. Results suggest that adult ADHD is associated with overweight and obesity.

DOI of Published Version



Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Mar;17(3):539-44. Epub 2009 Jan 8. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID