Stimulant medications decrease energy expenditure and physical activity in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

J Pediatr. 1999 Aug;135(2 Pt 1):203-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(99)70023-5.


Objective: To determine the effect of stimulant medications used to treat children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) on energy expenditure, fuel utilization, and physical activity.

Study design: Energy expenditure and physical activity were measured, respectively, by room respiration calorimetry and microwave motion detectors in 31 children with AD/HD (26 boys and 5 girls; ages 6 to 12 years) both while they were receiving their prescribed stimulant medication and after the medication had been discontinued for at least 24 hours. Fuel utilization was calculated from calorimetry data.

Results: Total and awake energy expenditure including energy expended while doing schoolwork, riding a stationary bicycle, resting, and watching a movie were from 4% to 8% lower when the children were receiving their prescribed stimulant medication. Total and awake activity were also lower while they were receiving medication (16% to 22%) and accounted for the lower rates of energy expenditure. Sleeping metabolic rate, basal metabolic rate, and fuel utilization were unaffected by medication.

Conclusions: Stimulant medications decrease physical activity, and hence, decrease the activity component of total daily energy expenditure in children with AD/HD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Calorimetry
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Dextroamphetamine / analogs & derivatives
  • Dextroamphetamine / therapeutic use
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine