Circadian rhythm disruption as a link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and obesity?

Research paper by Suzan W N SW Vogel, Denise D Bijlenga, Marjolein M Tanke, Tannetje I TI Bron, Kristiaan B KB van der Heijden, Hanna H Swaab, Aartjan T F AT Beekman, J J Sandra JJ Kooij

Indexed on: 04 Nov '15Published on: 04 Nov '15Published in: Journal of Psychosomatic Research


Patients with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have a high prevalence of obesity. This is the first study to investigate whether circadian rhythm disruption is a mechanism linking ADHD symptoms to obesity.ADHD symptoms and two manifestations of circadian rhythm disruption: sleep problems and an unstable eating pattern (skipping breakfast and binge eating later in the day) were assessed in participants with obesity (n= 114), controls (n= 154), and adult ADHD patients (n= 202).Participants with obesity had a higher prevalence of ADHD symptoms and short sleep on free days as compared to controls, but a lower prevalence of ADHD symptoms, short sleep on free days, and an unstable eating pattern as compared to ADHD patients.We found that participants with obesity had a similar prevalence rate of an unstable eating pattern when compared to controls. Moreover, mediation analyses showed that both sleep duration and an unstable eating pattern mediated the association between ADHD symptoms and body mass index (BMI).Our study supports the hypothesis that circadian rhythm disruption is a mechanism linking ADHD symptoms to obesity. Further research is needed to determine if treatment of ADHD and circadian rhythm disruption is effective in the prevention and treatment of obesity in patients with obesity and/or ADHD.