A recent study published by Mayo Clinic found that young girls stricken with ADHD are twice as likely to become obese adults as their healthier peers. Mayo researchers found that obesity risk is higher in ADHD girls, but not in boys.
The study involved more than 300 boys and girls that were diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) in their childhood. Researchers also kept track of changes in kids’ weight over time. The team however didn’t find a link between obesity risk and ADHD medication whatsoever.
The latest study is one in a long series of research papers on how ADHD affects girls. Those studies had shown that girls and boys with ADHD display different symptoms, so in girls it is trickier to detect the disorder. Plus, many girls affected by the condition grow out of it without ever having been diagnosed.
Dr. Seema Kumar, lead author of the recent study and researcher with the Mayo Clinic, said that the study revealed a link between childhood ADHD and increased risk of adult obesity only in girls. Kumar added that the risk was not influenced by ADHD medication.
During the study Mayo researchers compared ADHD young patients with more than 650 healthy kids of the same age and sex. Study authors based their research on data on ADHD patients gathered by the Mayo Clinic between 1976 and 2010.
The study showed that women who had ADHD in their childhood had double the risk to become obese in their adult years regardless of whether they used treatment for the condition or not. A similar link was not found in men, researchers said.
Kumar and her team advise parents to counsel girls with ADHD to prevent them from engaging in activities and adopting diets that could later lead to obesity. Kumar also believes that doctors should be aware that ADHD girls need a special approach since they are more sensitive than boys with ADHD.
A study last year revealed a huge gap between the rate of ADHD diagnosis in the two gender groups. Girls were often misdiagnosed since their symptoms were taken for something else such as day-dreaming or being a ‘Chatty Kathy’ or a ‘Tomboy.’
Additionally, ADHD in boys often results in hyperactivity, while in girls ADHD often wears the mask of depression or chronic distraction. As a result, many girls have troubles with their homework or grades, and their parents and teachers fail to understand that they might have ADHD.
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