Attention Deficit Disorder

Today’s post is another excerpt from “Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Weight Management“, recently published by the Canadian Obesity Network.

This guide is meant for health professionals dealing with obese clients and is NOT a self-management tool or weight-loss program. However, I assume that even general readers may find some of this material of interest.


Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD or ADHD) and impulsiveness has been associated with increased risk for weight gain in both children and adults. In one study, ADHD was present in over 25% of all obese patients and 40% of patients with class III obesity. Reasons for this prevalent co-morbidity are unknown, but brain dopamine or insulin receptor activity may be involved.

Patients with ADD or ADHD usually manifest a long history (since childhood) of impulsivity, lack of concentration, decreased attention, inability to complete tasks, impairment in school or work performance and social dysfunction. Being “hyperactive” in the sense of the DSM-IV diagnosis of ADHD does not prevent the development or persistence of overweight and obesity in children.

Bariatric patients showing poor focus during treatment should be investigated for ADD or ADHD. Identifying the disorder is crucial as they will not be able to focus on the weight- management plan until their impulsiveness and lack of concentration are addressed.

Pharmacological and behavioural therapies can often help patients improve task persistence and decrease impulsivity and distractibility, which will increase the likelihood of success with weight-control efforts.

© Copyright 2010 by Dr. Arya M. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. All rights reserved.

The opinions in this book are those of the authors and do not represent those of the Canadian Obesity Network.

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