Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is associated with disordered eating in adolescents

Chen Namimi-Halevi, Chen Dor, Aliza H. Stark, Rita Dichtiar, Michal Bromberg, Tali Sinai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and disordered eating (DE) are both highly prevalent among adolescents, but their relationship is understudied. This study examines their possible association in a nationally representative sample of adolescents. Methods: Participants in the Israeli Youth Health and Nutrition Survey (2015–2016), a cross-sectional, school-based study, completed self-administered questionnaires, including the SCOFF questionnaire, and underwent anthropometric measurements. An affirmative reply to at least two SCOFF items was considered a DE case. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated the ADHD-DE association and the associations between ADHD and individual SCOFF items, controlling for age, sex, socioeconomic status, and body mass index. Results: Of 4616 participants (12–18 years, 50.2% male), 654 reported an ADHD diagnosis. DE prevalence among ADHD adolescents was significantly higher than the non-ADHD group (50.2% vs. 43.9%, p = 0.003). Controlling for potential covariates, the association between ADHD and DE remained significant (OR = 1.409; 95% CI: 1.170–1.697), as did associations between ADHD and three SCOFF items. No difference in DE prevalence was found between stimulant-treated (n = 287) and untreated (n = 326) adolescents with ADHD. Conclusion: Adolescents with ADHD are more likely to experience DE. As DE can herald an imminent eating disorder, early identification is crucial. Further studies are needed to determine the ADHD-DE relationship’s causality. Impact: Disordered eating (DE) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are common among adolescents, and significantly affect health and well-being.This study examined the association between ADHD and DE in adolescents using the SCOFF questionnaire. Following adjustment for sociodemographic variables and BMI z-score, ADHD was associated with a 41% increased odds for DE.This study established the association between ADHD and DE, using a well-known questionnaire, in a large, nationally representative sample of adolescents. Monitoring eating behaviors and attitudes among adolescents with ADHD should be a priority, to minimize the risk of developing an eating disorder and its harmful consequences.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalPediatric Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to the International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.


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