Testing the dual pathway model of ADHD in obesity: a pilot study

Eat Weight Disord. 2018 Aug;23(4):507-512. doi: 10.1007/s40519-017-0375-z. Epub 2017 Mar 7.


Introduction: There may be shared neuropsychological dysfunctions in ADHD and obesity. This study tested a neuropsychological model of ADHD (reward/executive dysfunctioning) in individuals with obesity. Furthermore, the association between co-morbid binge eating and reward/executive dysfunction was explored.

Methods: Reward/executive dysfunctioning was assessed using both neuropsychological measures and questionnaires in individuals (aged 17-68) with obesity (N = 39; mean BMI = 39.70) and normal weight (N = 25; mean BMI = 22.94).

Results: No significant differences emerged between individuals with and without obesity on the outcome measures. However, individuals with obesity and binge eating showed significantly more self-reported delay discounting and inattention than those individuals with obesity but without binge eating. When controlling for inattention, this difference in delay discounting was no longer significant.

Discussion: Not obesity alone but obesity with binge eating was specifically associated with a mechanism often reported in ADHD, namely delay discounting. However, this effect may be more driven by inattention.

Keywords: ADHD; Binge eating; Executive functioning; Obesity; Reward.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Delay Discounting / physiology
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Reward
  • Young Adult