Girls with ADHD at risk of eating disorders

March 15th, 2008 - 12:02 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 15 (IANS) Adolescent girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop eating disorders than girls without ADHD, a new study has found. “Adolescent girls with ADHD… may go through repeating cycles of binge eating and purging behaviours that are common in bulimia nervosa (an eating disorder),” said University of Virginia psychologist Amori Yee Mikami.

The findings have appeared in the current issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

ADHD affects about five percent of school children, and three times more boys than girls. Symptoms include a short attention span, poor organisation, excessive talking, disruptive and aggressive behaviour, restlessness and irritability.

Many sufferers go through a range of problems, from poor grades to poor relations with parents and teachers, and more than half have serious problems making friends.

Because the disorder is far more common in boys, researchers are still learning its long-term effects on girls.

“Our finding suggests that girls may develop a broader range of problems in adolescence than their male counterparts,” Mikami said. “We know that eating disorders occur 10 times more often in girls than boys.”

Mikami also noted that because ADHD is more common in boys, many girls may go undiagnosed and untreated.

“Girls with ADHD may be more at risk of developing eating problems as adolescents because they already have impulsive behaviours that can set them apart from their peers,” Mikami said.

The study was based on a survey of an ethnically diverse group of 228 girls in San Francisco area; 140 who had been diagnosed with ADHD and 88 matched comparison girls without ADHD. They were first assessed between the ages of six and 12 and again five years later.

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