Attention Deficit Disorder and Obesity link from Canadian study

A new Canadian study may offer hope to some for whom dieting and exercise have proven ineffective in the battle against obesity.

In a study published in the journal Eating Weight Disorders, Vol. 10, N.1, researchers have outlined a possible link between ADHD and severe obesity.

They found that 26.7 % of the severely obese women in the study had ADHD, more than 5 times larger then the regular population. They had problems with impulsivity, distractibility, and attention and staying focused.

Toronto psychologist John Fleming adds: “There’s a tendency to not pay attention to feelings of fullness and that ability to be able to say ‘stop’.”

So far, reports Favaro, the researchers have found that when these patients are treated for attention disorders with drugs like Ritalin, coupled with counselling, about 40 per cent end up losing weight.


It does make sense. This is a good story. They probably do need more research on this.

However, one of the things both the reporter (CTV medical correspondent Avis Favaro), and CTV’s medical consultant Dr. Marla Shapiro (or possibly the researchers) missed in the written report and TV clip is the ADHD neurotransmitter connection.

Protein is a building block for dopamine one of the main neurotransmitters associated with ADHD (ADDers have lower levels of dopamine than the general population) and one that stimulant medications work on increasing the availability of. Among it’s other functions it’s the reward brain chemical and helps us to focus our attention.

Serotonin is another neurotransmitters associated with ADHD. It’s a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, is associated with depression (a ADHD comorbid condition) among other functions, and eating carbs boosts serotonin levels. Both neurotransmitters are associated with addictive behaviours. See my website section on ADD and Addictions

So it can be argued that these people are self-medicating their ADHD (and possibly depression as well, being severely overweight could easily lead to that) with food. Self-medication can be healthy i.e., exercise, meditation, sex, and working at a job you love, or unhealthy, i.e., alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, excessive shopping and computer use.

Since 85% of Adults with ADHD don’t know they have it they often self medicate and it’s not always in healthy ways. This points to a need to better awareness of ADHD and the neurobiology of ADHD (See my webpage on explaining the neurobiology of ADHD and information on how your brain works)
on the part of

A) The medical/therapeutic community
B) The media
C) The general public and
D) People with ADHD.

We also need more medical professionals who can diagnose ADHD.

You wouldn’t expect to go to a doctor and not have him know enough about diabetes to be able to diagnose it you would you?

Well it affects 5% of the population, the same percentage that have ADD and we can’t expect the same treatment. Why?

8 thoughts on “Attention Deficit Disorder and Obesity link from Canadian study”

  1. Pingback: Adult ADD Strengths » Vancouver Area Web - Blog- Web 2.0- Geek-Wired- Internet Community Directory

  2. This does not surprise me AT ALL. I am ADD and obese. I have lost 20 lbs. but it’s taken me 5 months to do it. I joke with my friends that the biggest challenge for me is overcoming my ADD to lose the weight. Now it appears there is a lot more validity to that than I thought. Interesting.

  3. Pingback: Girls And Women With ADHD Have Higher Rates of Anorexia Nervosa, Here Are Some Reasons Why | Adult ADD Strengths

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