A new study reveals that adolescent girls with ADHD are more prone to develop eating disorders when compared to the girls without ADHD.
The study, led by Amori Yee Mikami, a University of Virginia psychologist, stated that adolescent girls with ADHD frequently develop body-image dissatisfaction and may go through repeating cycles of binge eating and purging behaviors that are common in bulimia nervosa.
"Adolescent girls with ADHD frequently develop body-image dissatisfaction and may go through repeating cycles of binge eating and purging behaviors that are common in bulimia nervosa," said Mikami.
Symptoms of ADHD include a short attention span, poor organization, excessive talking, disruptive and aggressive behavior, restlessness and irritability.
Many children with ADHD suffer through a range of problems, from poor grades to poor relations with parents and teachers, and more than half have serious problems making friends.
The study was conducted with a sample of 228 girls; 140 who had been diagnosed with ADHD and 88 matched comparison girls without ADHD.
They were first assessed between the ages of 6 and 12 and again five years later.
Girls with the "combined type" of ADHD (those with both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity) were most likely to have adolescent bulimia nervosa symptoms, relative to girls with the "inattentive type" of ADHD (those with inattention only) and girls without ADHD.
Girls with both types of ADHD were more likely to be overweight, to have experienced harsh/critical parenting in childhood, and to have been peer-rejected than girls without ADHD.
Mikami said she believes these factors could contribute to the bulimia nervosa symptoms.
"Our finding suggests that girls may develop a broader range of problems in adolescence than their male counterparts. They may be at risk for eating problems, which are a female-relevant domain of impairment. We know that eating disorders occur 10 times more often in girls than boys," Mikami said.
The study is published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.