Half of the children with overweight or obesity and ADHD reach normal weight with stimulants

Half of the children with overweight or obesity and ADHD reach normal weight with stimulants

Fast K, Björk A, Strandberg M, Johannesson E, Wentz E, Dahlgren J.

 Acta Paediatr. 2021 Apr 20.
doi: 10.1111/apa.15881.


Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: Use of stimulants for children who have ADHD and obesity may be helpful for both conditions.



Aim: Treatment of childhood obesity is often insufficient and may be aggravated by high co-occurrence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We aimed to investigate whether children with overweight or obesity normalised in weight when receiving stimulant treatment for ADHD.

Methods: Growth data of 118 children were obtained from medical records at outpatient paediatric and children’s psychiatric services in the Gothenburg area, Sweden. The children were diagnosed with ADHD and were between 6-17 years at the start of stimulant treatment. The pre-treatment data act as an internal control where every child is their own control.

Results: At the start of treatment 74 children had normal weight and 44 had either overweight or obesity. During the year with stimulants, the mean (SD) body mass index (BMI) in standard deviation score (SDS) decreased significantly: -0.72 (0.66) compared to 0.17 (0.43) during the year before treatment (p<0.01). After one year with treatment 43% of those with overweight or obesity had reached normal weight.

Conclusions: Stimulant treatment for ADHD yield significant weight loss. In children with overweight or obesity and ADHD, this is an important finding showing additional benefit in terms of weight management.

* Abstracts are selected for their clinical relevance by Dr. Margaret Weiss, Director of Clinical Research, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University. Her commentary reflects her own opinion.  It is not approved or necessarily representative of the CADDRA board.


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