[ADHD symptoms as risk factors for dysfunctional eating habits in adolescents: results from a longitudinal study]

Riv Psichiatr. Nov-Dec 2013;48(6):448-55. doi: 10.1708/1379.15339.
[Article in Italian]


The aim of this study is to analyze the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in childhood and early-adolescence and the development of dysfunctional eating habits later in life. The sample under investigation is composed of 217 adolescents (males: 30.9%; mean age: 17.1 ± 0.88 ys; range: 16-19 ys) voluntarily recruited in the city of Parma (Northern Italy) in the context of a longitudinal research project focused on developmental factors of antisocial behaviour. All subjects were assessed at T1 (mean age: 12 ys) and at T2 (mean age: 14 ys) using a structured clinical interview to collect information on ADHD symptoms on a lifetime basis and, at T3 (mean age: 17 ys), they were administered an interview to assess pathological eating habits. Correlation and regression analyses were carried out between scores of the three symptom domains of ADHD and eating habits as assessed at T3. Results suggest that the association between ADHD symptoms and eating habits show differences according to gender, in that in females ADHD symptoms assessed at T2 are associated with compensatory behaviours, while in males they are predictive of overweight as assessed at T3. ADHD symptoms, although under threshold, may lead to chaotic and unorganized eating habits which might put female at risk for compensatory behaviours and males for overweight.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia / epidemiology
  • Anorexia / etiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Bulimia / epidemiology
  • Bulimia / etiology
  • Child
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult