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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder & Eating Disorders: Is There a Link?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, is a common childhood disorder. ADHD can often persist into adolescence and adulthood. The prevalence of ADHD is thought to be between 6-7% among children and adolescents and ~5% among adults (Willcutt, 2012).

Increasingly, evidence from multiple studies has pointed to comorbidity between ADHD and eating disorders (EDs). For example, one study found that young females with ADHD were 5.6 times more likely to develop clinical (i.e., diagnosable according to DSM-5) or subthreshold (i.e., sub-clinical) bulimia nervosa (BN) (Biederman et al., 2007). Another study found that found that 21% of female inpatients at an ED unit had six or more ADHD symptoms (Yates et al., 2009).

However, most previous studies are limited by the fact that they assessed comorbidity between ADHD and EDs among patients. This limits our ability to generalize these findings to community samples, where many may experience symptoms of the disorders at subthreshold levels. Moreover, most studies focused on bingeing/purging behaviours and did not investigate differences between ADHD subtypes.

In the current study, Jennifer Bleck and colleagues …

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About Science of Eating Disorders

Science of Eating Disorders (SEDs) is dedicated to making peer-reviewed eating disorder research more accessible to the public. It is about making sense of academic research in a clear and concise way for those who may lack expertise, access, or time required to read scholarly literature.

SEDs articles cover a broad range of topics relevant to eating disorders – from genetics, psychology, and neuroscience, to treatment, public understanding, medical complications, and much much more. All articles are referenced and based on findings from peer-reviewed literature.

What makes SEDs unique is that all articles are written by individuals with a history of eating disorders and a background in science. As such, articles often include personal thoughts on the reality of living with, managing, and recovering from an eating disorder.

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