The Co-occurrence of Pediatric Obesity and ADHD: an Understanding of Shared Pathophysiology and Implications for Collaborative Management

Valerie M. O'Hara, WOW for Wellness Clinic, Penobscot Community Health Care, 6 Telcom Drive, Bangor, ME, 04401, USA.
Jennifer L. Curran, Northern Light Health, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, 489 State St, Bangor, ME, 04401, USA.
Nancy T. Browne, , 25 Andrews Avenue, Falmouth, ME, 04105, USA.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To describe what is known about the association between obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children along with the co-occurring conditions of sleep dysfunction, loss of control/binge eating disorder (LOC-ED/BED), and anxiety. RECENT FINDINGS: Obesity and ADHD share common brain pathways (hypothalamic, executive, and reward centers) with pathophysiology in these areas manifesting in partial or complete expression of these diseases. Sleep dysfunction, LOC-ED/BED, and anxiety share similar pathways and are associated with this disease dyad. The association of obesity and ADHD with sleep dysfunction, LOC-ED/BED, and anxiety is discussed. An algorithm outlining decision pathways for patients with obesity and with and without ADHD is presented. Future research exploring the complex pathophysiology of both obesity and ADHD as well as co-occurring conditions is needed to develop clinical guidelines and ultimately assist in providing the best evidence-based care.