Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and impairment in executive functions: A barrier to weight loss in individuals with obesity?

Samuele Cortese, Erika Comencini, Brenda Vincenzi, Mario Speranza, Marco Angriman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: An increasing body of research points to a significant association of obesity to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and deficits in executive functions. There is also preliminary evidence suggesting that children with ADHD may be at risk of obesity in adulthood.Discussion: In this article, we discuss the evidence showing that ADHD and/or deficits in executive functions are a barrier to a successful weight control in individuals enrolled in weight loss programs. Impairing symptoms of ADHD or deficits in executive functions may foster dysregulated eating behaviors, such as binge eating, emotionally-induced eating or eating in the absence of hunger, which, in turn, may contribute to unsuccessful weight loss. ADHD-related behaviors or neurocognitive impairment may also hamper a regular and structured physical activity. There is initial research showing that treatment of comorbid ADHD and executive functions training significantly improve the outcome of obesity in individuals with comorbid ADHD or impairment in executive functions.Summary: Preliminary evidence suggests that comorbid ADHD and deficits in executive functions are a barrier to a successful weight loss in individuals involved in obesity treatment programs. If further methodologically sound evidence confirms this relationship, screening and effectively managing comorbid ADHD and/or executive functions deficits in individuals with obesity might have the potential to reduce not only the burden of ADHD but also the obesity epidemics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number286
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 7 2013

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Executive functions
  • Obesity
  • Treatment resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine(all)

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