Does attention hyperactivity deficit disorder (ADHD) contribute to obesity?

I don’t know much about this at all.  I read about this on Dr. Arya Sharma’s excellent obesity blog (fairly technical/medical, though for you lay folks).

He points out that:

almost 30% of adults with severe obesity may have signs of attention hyperactivity deficit disorder (ADHD) and, when present, this can be a major barrier to weight management….  Thus, all patient in our obesity clinic are routinely screened for ADHD and often treating this condition is the first step to successful weight management.

He then reviews an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association about cognitive based therapy for ADHD.  Key aspects of this therapy that he describes include:

Training in organizing and planning (use of calendar and task list system)
Problem-solving training (generating alternatives and picking the best solution, breaking down overwhelming tasks into steps).
Learning skills to reduce distractibility, such as techniques to time the length of one’s attention span, and, when doing a task, write down distractions vs acting on them.
Cognitive restructuring, which involved learning to think more adaptively in situations that cause distress.

I now realize that this is some of what I was taught when I spent 2 weeks in the Structure House weight loss program in Durham NC.  “Structure House” – they worked on forcing us to plan our meals, our shopping, our cooking, our record keeping, so as to set us up for success!

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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