Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and The Clinical Management of Obesity

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Sherry Pagato, PHD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Bradley Appelhans, PHD
Rush Medical College
Miguel Alonso-Alonso, MD, MPHIL
Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with increased risk for obesity and obesity treatment failure. The present paper discusses how features of ADHD, including inattention, reward sensitivity, and impulsivity, may impact obesity risk and have implications for the management of obesity. In addition, we review emerging research on how obesity may contribute to brain changes that are associated with ADHD-like symptoms. Finally, suggestions for improving the clinical management of obesity in patients with ADHD are discussed, including pharmacological treatment, exercise, and cognitive behavior therapy. ADHD is a barrier to the clinical management of obesity and more research is needed to further understand the link between ADHD and obesity. Effective treatment approaches are needed given the significant difficulty patients with ADHD encounter in their attempts to regulate their weight in the context of an obesogenic environment.