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Adolescent girls with ADHD are at increased risk for eating disorders, study shows
Date:3/14/2008

Girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder stand a substantially greater risk of developing eating disorders in adolescence than girls without ADHD, a new study has found.

"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 University of Virginia psychologist Amori Yee Mikami, who led the study.

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

ADHD is a disorder that affects about 5 percent of school-age children, and three times more boys than girls. Symptoms 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.

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. "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."

Additionally, Mikami noted that because ADHD is more common in boys, many girls with the disorder may go undiagnosed and untreated.

"Girls with ADHD may be more at risk of developing eating problems as adolescents because they already have impulsive behaviors that can set them apart from their peers," Mikami said. "As they get older, their impulsivity may make it difficult for them to maintain healthy eating and a healthy weight, resulting in self-consciousness about their body image and the binging and purging symptoms."

The study was conducte
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Contact: Amori Mikami
mikami@virginia.edu
434-284-1882
University of Virginia
Source:Eurekalert

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